Reviewer's Rating 2 out of 5   User Rating 3 out of 5
The Haunting (1999)

Under the pretence of conducting a study of insomnia, Dr Marrow (Neeson) invites three victims to spend a few nights at the decidedly sinister Hill House.

Somewhat critically vilified, the British public showed a pleasingly scant regard for the reviews and pumped several million into the UK box office for "The Haunting".

This remake is nowhere near as terrifying as the 1963 original, but then that was hardly a good example of a coherent film. While it boasted both style and great atmosphere, it failed to address the rather murky character issues it threw up. Jan De Bont rightly simplifies his adaptation by going for the straight 'haunted house' format.

The movie does benefit from some incredibly overblown art direction, made possible by a large amount of CGI. Unfortunately De Bont becomes a slave to these process shots that while amazing to watch, are not realistic enough to scare. Due to the sheer number of effects, the running time spirals out of control, allowing the dreaded boredom monster to pounce.

The vice-like grip of this cinematic demon is sadly not loosened by a satisfying denouement. Instead, De Bont hits frantic mode, resulting in a closing half-hour that's nothing less than bonkers. Everything is thrown at the screen, and pretty soon you're as exhausted as the hapless suckers you're watching.

There are some nice set-pieces like the spiral staircase sequence, although this is more technically brilliant than tense. And this is a shame because some very talented people have worked on this movie. But in showcasing all the latest cinematic techniques, it strangles any element of surprise the film can offer.

Read a review of the "The Haunting" DVD.

End Credits

Director: Jan De Bont

Writer: David Self

Stars: Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Owen Wilson, Lili Taylor

Genre: Horror

Length: 107 minutes

Cinema: 1999

DVD: 27 November 2000

VHS: 23 October 2000

Country: USA

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