The Haunting

Film, Drama
la maison du diable - Robert Wise

Time Out says

While filming this bombastic supernatural thriller, director De Bont promised to eschew Robert Wise's 1963 version in favour of a faithful, if updated, adaptation of Shirley Jackson's source novel, The Legend of Hill House. De Bont also vowed to make sparing use of special effects. He reneged on both counts. Substituting dull computer generated spooks for atmosphere, scares and suspense, he has turned a frightening, unfathomable ghost story into a boring, solvable mystery. Like the human 'guinea pigs' drawn to Hill House by Dr David Marrow's alleged research into sleep disorders, we've been brought here under false pretences. The grotesque sets dwarf the actors, as the gliding camera pursues them down endless corridors, up staircases and into over-designed chambers. Thank heaven for Taylor, whose susceptible Nell occasionally succeeds in reducing things to a human scale. A timid soul who feels drawn to a Victorian house haunted by the unquiet souls of dead children - lured there 130 years before by childless textile tycoon Hugh Crain - Nell is the focus of the building's most extraordinary visual and aural manifestations. Sadly the ambiguity and complexity of Taylor's portrayal only shows up the insipidity of Neeson's bland psychologist, Zeta-Jones' bisexual vamp and Wilson's oddball sceptic.

By: NF


Release details

113 mins

Cast and crew

Jan De Bont
David Self
Liam Neeson
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Owen Wilson
Lili Taylor
Marian Seldes
Bruce Dern
Virginia Madsen
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