The Haunting

  • 1999
  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • Horror

If you like your ghost stories loud, obvious and without a wisp of ambience, this remake of Robert Wise's classic psychological horror tale may activate your fright flasher. But it won't raise the hairs on the back of your neck, or make you tuck your toes under the sheet at night. Unethical Dr. Marrow (Liam Neeson) recruits three high-strung types for a...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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If you like your ghost stories loud, obvious and without a wisp of ambience, this remake of Robert Wise's classic psychological horror tale may activate your fright flasher. But it won't raise the hairs on the back of your neck, or make you tuck your

toes under the sheet at night. Unethical Dr. Marrow (Liam Neeson) recruits three high-strung types for a bogus sleep disorder study at Hill House, a rambling mansion with a bad reputation. But he actually plans to scare them half to death for a paper on fear. Sensitive Eleanor (Lili Taylor) has

spent 11 years caring for her aging mother and longs for a little adventure. Flamboyant Theo (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is a bisexual flirt whose teasing ways alarm mousy little Eleanor but charm the pants off regular joe Luke (Owen Wilson). Marrow chuckles at his cleverness in giving his guinea pigs

the willies, but the house really is as haunted as can be. It responds to his audacity by throwing every nasty thing it's got at the quartet: Scary noises, blasts of icy air, bloody footprints, ghostly faces that emerge from billowing curtains and rumpled bedclothes. Overall the cast is better

than it needs to be — Taylor especially so — but it hardly matters. Jan De Bont is a director of zero subtlety: He seems to think atmosphere is spontaneously generated when there's nothing happening, so he loads up the film's front end with shots of people walking down hallways and

remarking on the creepy carvings. Memo to Jan: That's not the way it works. The massive sets and extensive special effects are certainly... massive and extensive. But watching them is like watching the wheels and gears inside a hugely complicated clock: It's interesting and even beautiful, but can

hardly be called scary.

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  • Released: 1999
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Review: If you like your ghost stories loud, obvious and without a wisp of ambience, this remake of Robert Wise's classic psychological horror tale may activate your fright flasher. But it won't raise the hairs on the back of your neck, or make you tuck your toes… (more)

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