The Haunting – USA, 1999 – overview and reviews

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The Haunting is a 1999 American horror feature film directed by Jan de Bont (Speed). It is a remake of the 1963 horror film of the same name  Both films are loosely based on the novel The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, published in 1959. The movie stars Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Owen Wilson and Lili Taylor.


Eleanor “Nell” Vance (Lili Taylor) has cared for her invalid mother for eleven years. After her mother dies, her sister (Virginia Madsen) evicts her. Nell receives a phone call about an insomnia study, directed by Dr David Marrow (Liam Neeson) at Hill House, a secluded manor in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, and applies for it.

At the house, she meets Mr and Mrs Dudley (Bruce Dern, Marian Seldes), a strange pair of caretakers. Two other participants arrive, Luke Sanderson (Owen Wilson), and the bisexual Theodora (Catherine Zeta-Jones), along with Dr Marrow and his two research assistants.

Unknown to the participants, Dr Marrow’s true purpose is to study the psychological response to fear, intending to expose his subjects to increasing amounts of terror. Each night, the caretakers chain the gate outside Hill House, preventing anyone from getting in or out until morning…

Reviews [click links to read more]:

“On the sliding scale of botched remakes, The Haunting ranks pretty high. Its cinematic sins are many and varied, but to my mind the greatest of them is that it seems so disrespectful of its source – both the novel and the film. There’s a sense of impatience with the material about this film, as if its makers undertook the project in order to show people how this sort of thing should be done.” And You Call Yourself a Scientist!


“…after the first hour or so, the well-made aspect was completely lost and the film, including the actors dialogue (solely writer David Self’s fault) seem to lose their way, growing mundane and lackluster, slowing to a ridiculous grind, never regaining momentum all the way to the less than stellar and unbelievably unfulfilling ending.” HNN

“The acting was… not good. With the exception of Liam Neeson, this was not a well-seasoned cast. I’ve liked all of these guys in other roles, but their performances in this were about as dynamic as 80’s sitcom actors. I guess, it can be chalked down to lack of experience, but really, who thought it would be a good idea to put this much inexperience in a multi-million dollar movie?” Girl on Book Action


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