I decided to revisit a film that I hadn’t seen in a while and The Haunting happened to be in my to-watch pile. I hadn’t seen this film since… probably its release and I remembered the film fondly. Well this film is rather good proof that your own memories can lie to you.
Eleanor “Nell” Vance (Lili Taylor), who has for the last decade has cared for her invalid mother gets evicted after her mother’s death by her sister Jane and Janes husband. Nell receives a phone call about joining an insomnia study lead by Dr. David Marrow (Liam Neeson) in the remote Crain Manor. Having nowhere to go and no job, Nell decides to apply and is chosen. Dr. Marrow reveals to a colleague that the study is a false face for a study on group fear. Nell arrives at the Manson first, but is quickly joined by Theodora (Catherine Zeta-Jones), Luke Sanderson (Owen Wilson) along with Dr. Marrow and his assistants. Dr. Marrow sows the seeds for his experiment, and that night while telling the houses haunting history one of his assistants becomes wounded and is quickly rushed to the hospital by the remaining assistant, leaving only the Dr. and his subjects. Over the course of their week-long stay Nell becomes more and more convinced the house is haunted. She eventually finds Crain, the man who built the house’s, hidden study. Nell learns that Crain would abduct children and never let them leave, not even in death. Nell becomes obsessed with saving the children’s spirits from Crain’s gripe, as Crain’s ghost to haunt the houses halls.
The thing I feel I have to point out first and foremost is the weak ass script. To really put it on blast would require more spoilers than I’m willing to give. But let’s just say that this film had some amazing things going for it for the first two-thirds of its run time. Then it just seems to fall apart, becoming a strange mix of over done CGI and plot holes. At points you might think that you nodded off and missed something, I assure you that you did not.
Next is the acting. You would expect better out of such a small cast of very talented actors. But on the other hand, I feel that all of Liam Neesons work has never been up to par since he made Schindler’s List. It’s like he realized he could touch on perfection so he stopped trying. I don’t have as much beef with Luke Wilson and Catherine Zeta-Jones, both actors came off as a little bland. Like they knew they were in a shitty horror film.
But I do love the setting as the sets for the house are gorgeous, even if completely impractical. So much so that I kept thinking of the House from Rose Red, then I learned that Stephen King had a hand in the early drafts. It gives a strange warm vibe due to all the warm earth tones but all the carved imagery with the Iron door in particular being very unsettling.
Final thoughts, miss-able. If you haven’t seen it, keep it that way. You not missing anything that isn’t done better elsewhere. But if you do wanna see something like this, I would direct you to either the 1963 film of the same name that this film is a loose remake of or Rose Red. While this film does more or less entertain you during its 114 minute run time, it leaves you with the sensation that time would have been better spent doing anything else. 4/10