The Haunting Movie Review
Dreamworks presents The Haunting, a supposedly chilling but realistically not horror film from director Jan de Bont. Previously titled The Haunting of Hill House (and a remake of the original), The Haunting (which is, by the way, no where as good of a name) stars Academy Award winner Liam Neeson, heartthrob Catherine Zeta Jones, and Owen Wilson, but most notably Lili Taylor, who's character is most greatly affected by the dark side of Hill House.
Having not seen the original, I have no way to compare both quality and story, but I would hate to see the original if it were considered any worse than this. To describe The Haunting I will use a metaphor of a hill, the left side bad, the right side good. All movies start out on the left side and work their way up (sometimes almost instantly), and if they reach the top and over, there is no problem in them being a good movie. The Haunting works it's way up the hill almost to the top, but just when it is about to click and reach the peak, it rolls back down and is forced to work its way up again. The Haunting is not scary and most of it is boring.
After what seems like an endless menagerie of character introductions, which really only goes for about ten minutes or less, and the presentation of Zeta Jone's apparent bisexuality (was there a point to that?), The Haunting kicks off. Once it gets dark in Hill House, things start going bad. Now, to make the movie really exciting, everything should have taken place during the first night. That way, the movie would creep along to the final climatic scene all in one night, without any rest. Instead, the movie works itself along through three nights, and every time it reaches day, the "action" stops.
The Haunting had enough potential to make it one of the scariest movies ever. Unfortunately, all there was was a bunch of banging doors, creaking noises, childlike whispers, and so on. That's all well and good but the noises could have been put to more than just what they are. They could have created real suspense, where the characters, or at least the audience, thinks something is going to jump out at them. Sometimes something might jump out, sometimes not, but either way, it keeps people on the edge of their seats. The Haunting had none of this.
The ending was just as unscary as the rest of the movie (with exception to the skeleton scene), but did have some cool graphics. The house really comes alive at the end but the movie still isn't scary, and the finale is extremely unclimatic. I'll try not to give it away, but they manage to vanquish the ghost without doing anything. Something went on, but the movie doesn't explain why.
Lili Taylor is the central character of the movie as she is most affected by the disturbances. But after a while, she sort of snaps and wanders through the halls saying, "The children need me." She did a good job as soon as she started doing that, there was nothing left to work with. All she could do is stumble around and mutter these stupid words over and over again. And then there was the whole family relations thing, which has been way overused, and so on.
The Haunting was a well done movie but had absolutely no horror to it. For the most part, it was boring, and far from being scary.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.