Home is Where the Heart is
The Haunting
Review by Ross Anthony

Right up until the end, I wanted to praise this movie; but the less than satisfying climax stole my thunder. Hell, I'm going to steal it back! (There's got to be a little praise I can scare up.)

The greatest thing about this film is so often lost, ill-achieved or simple forgotten in others. It's the mighty undercurrent churning beneath the murky green surface. It's the feeling a film sets spinning inside it's viewers hearts -- ever so delicately at first, until finally it's charging like a locomotive. Though on the screen, only wide eyes and peeked ears hint of it.

When I was a I child, I lived in an old wooden house two blocks from the train tracks. I slept up on the third floor. When a freight train tumbled by in the wee hours of the morning, that old frame house would rattle and shake, even sway; my bed would rock. Perhaps that should be scary, but I came to like it. And now that I sleep in the land of earthquakes; when a tremor rocks my bed, I don't wake up ... I have eerie, yet sweet reminiscent dreams of home.

That's the kind of unseen enchantment, "The Haunting" so aptly sets spinning like a huge magnificent gyroscope on a string. The hovering motion and quiet driving force of the twisting top is hampered neither by imperfections in the string, nor by gravity.

I simply praise "The Haunting" for this marvelous achievement. The kind of scary that lures you, that you truly believe is good, and yet sets shivers down your spine because you know it could just as easily be otherwise.

Though the ending simply isn't good enough (click here to find out why) for the fine footage prior, my overwhelming feeling of the film is still that mighty enchantment. It's visually beautiful. In fact, the press kit had so many great photographs that I found selecting one to print a difficult task. The looming mansion and each set within are absolutely magnificent, each room, each door. I'm giving this an A- for thickly rich visuals and the ability to stir up a wondrously chilling undercurrent.

Starring Lili Taylor, Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Owen Wilson.
Directed by Jan De Bont.
Screenplay by David Self based upon "The Haunting of Hill House" by Shirley Jackson.
Produced by Susan Arnold, Donna Roth, Colin Wilson at Dream Works/Roth-Arnold.
Rated PG-13.


Copyright © 1999 Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:08:47 PDT