Mad Cow's Guide to :
and forbidding, Hill House sits alone. It was built 130
years ago by textile baron Hugh Crain for his wife and
the children they would never have. Instead it was filled
with stories of tragedy, which over time turned into
ominous tales of death that left the house uninhabited
so it seemed.
A century later, Dr. David Marrow (Liam Neeson), intrigued by the mansions storied past, has drawn three people to Hill House, for what he tells them is a sleep disorder study: Theo (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a woman of the world whose outward bravado isnt all it seems; Luke (Owen Wilson), the cynic of the group who is the first to suspect that Dr. Marrows study has nothing to do with sleeping; and the most sensitive of the group Nell (Lili Taylor). From the moment of her arrival, Nell seems mysteriously drawn to the mansion and the attraction is frighteningly mutual.
Before long, the ghosts of the past manifest themselves in terrifying visitations that might explain why the group was warned that no one stays in the house in the night in the dark. The walls of Hill House are upright the floors firm. But the locals knowand we soon discoverthat something walks here and it walks alone.
Story aside The Haunting has some exeptional special effects, but alas they are used as a substitue for suspense. Many of the films finest and most effective scenes are those in the middle of the film which rely on sound effects alone. A mention must also go to the set designers who have created the interior of Hill House, a vast and eerie warren of lavishly carved corridors and rooms.
It is an immense shame that the whole film is spoilt by a predictable Hollywood ending crammed with uneccessary special effects.
The Haunting stars Liam Neeson (Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace, Schindlers List), Catherine Zeta-Jones (The Mask of Zorro), Owen Wilson (Armageddon), and Lili Taylor (Ransom), and also stars Bruce Dern and Marian Seldes. The film is directed by Jan De Bont (Twister, Speed) and produced by Susan Arnold and Donna Arkoff Roth (Forces of Nature) and Colin Wilson (The Lost World: Jurassic Park), with De Bont also serving as executive producer. The screenplay is by David Self, based upon the book "The Haunting of Hill House" by Shirley Jackson.
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