Saturday, October 20, 2012

Scarefest 2012 - The Haunting

Today's Movie:  The Haunting (1999)

Starring:  Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta Jones, Owen Wilson, Lili Taylor

Plot:  A psychologist (Neeson) decides to run an experiment with three paid volunteers to see how group dynamics responds under intense fear conditions.  His brillliant idea is to make them all stay overnight in a haunted mansion/castle/possessed house not realizing it really is haunted and possessed.  Nell (Taylor) starts seeing ghosts and a convoluted, semi incoherent story unfolds.

Gore Factor:  Movie is PG-13 so other than Wilson losing his head in a surprisingly bloodless fashion, not much to report. 

Nude Factor:  Non existant which was disappointing as I forgot how stunning young Zeta Jones was. 

Scare Factor:  Barley any.  The ghosts we do see are non threatening (until the end at which point it's far too late) and Taylor's acting ruins any chance of actual suspense.  Her reaction to Wilson's beheading is to simply say 'Oh no' and walk away.  There is one cool scene where a bedroom becomes the ghost haunting the house, but other than that this is a waste of time.

Review:  Is it odd that the movie with the most star power and budget (it was directed by Jan de Bont who, between 'Speed 2: Cruise Control' and this movie, seems intent on proving the first 'Speed' was a fluke) is also the worst horror movie reviewed so far.  Even John Carpenter's 'Prince of Darkness' had more scares than this stupid entry. 

I suppose it could have been better if someone other than Lili Taylor were playing the lead.  Neeson, Wilson and Zeta-Jones all exude the ease on camera quality that made them stars.  Taylor spends her time over reacting when she shouldn't and under reacting when she should.  I laughed out loud at her lack of reaction to Wilson's death (whoops, spoiler alert many times over).  At times she comes off as mentally challenged.

What doesn't help her is a story so confusing and convoluted you have to work your way through it in order to figure out what exactly is going on.  Take it from me, it's not worth your time.  Here it is in a nutshell:  Nell is actually the grand daughter of the menacing dude possessing the house and she winds up sending him to hell and freeing all the trapped children's souls...ah whatever. 

Bottom Line:  Don't waste your time.  Sit in a dark room and watch any nightly news program.  More creepy stories there.

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