Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Film Review: The Haunting (1999)

The Haunting (Review)
United States/1999
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...starts off promising, but becomes repetitive and tedious..."

Dr. David Marrow (Liam Neeson) invites three people, who suffer from insomnia, to Hill House for a special experiment with other intentions...

The Haunting follows Dr. Marrow, Eleanor Vance (Lili Taylor), Luke Sanderson (Owen Wilson), and Theo (Catherine Zeta-Jones) during the experiment in the ominous Hill House. The trio believe their insomnia is being tested. In reality, Dr. Marrow is conducting tests on fear. Eleanor, however, thinks the house is actually haunted and she believes she's being called by children. So, they go about their business until the mystery unravels. Well, it doesn't really unravel, it's not fulfilling at all actually. The ending was bad, too.

I actually enjoyed the first half of the film. Sure, it has some problems, but it ultimately works as a slow-burn haunted house horror film. I especially enjoyed the setting of the film. The haunted manor really aids in developing the ominous and eerie atmosphere. I also enjoyed the story, despite its simplicity and odd flow. The characters definitely could've used a bit more depth, but none of them were annoying. (that's good, right?) I guess what I'm saying is: it was moderately tolerable and even enjoyable.

The film begins to stumble during the second half. At this point, the story starts to go around in circles over and over. "The children this, the children that." It really threw me off, which was disappointing considering I was well immersed by the setting. The scares also go from creepy noise in the night (subtle) to big-budget computer effects (blatant). In my case, I didn't find the special effects frightening or even necessary. The biggest flaw comes from the unusually cheesy ending. I mean, the rest of the film keeps an ominous mood, but the ending throws it out the window for something so corny and poorly explained.

Lili Taylor, who I enjoyed in The Conjuring, was decent for most of the film. However, the latter half of the film has her screaming a lot, and let's just say screaming is not her strong point. Liam Neeson offers a great performance, though. The music is great during most of the film, although it sounds more like a fantasy soundtrack than horror music. The cinematography is great, too, I loved how it captured the elegant setting. The special effects, albeit good, are overwhelming and unnecessary; not only that, they also make the film less frightening. Director Jan de Bont does well during the first half, but, like the plot, he gets lost in a hectic story filled with big-budget graphics.

Overall, The Haunting is a mediocre and disappointing film. It starts off promising, but becomes repetitive and tedious during the grand finale. There are a handful of decent frights, especially during the subtle first half, but the film's latter half suffers from an over-reliance on special effects. The cheesy ending doesn't help, either. If you have nothing better to watch, I have plenty of recommendations. Otherwise, expect a blend of some good and more bad.

Score: 4/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and gore.

No comments:

Post a Comment