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Haunting, The [DVD] [1999]
Haunting, The [DVD] [1999]
Dvd ~ Liam Neeson

2 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Better than you might think., 18 Nov. 2001
This review is from: Haunting, The [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
As a former newspaper film reviewer I'm amazed that so many professional critics have panned this film with such relentless severity. Sure enough, 'The Haunting' is not masterpiece but it's no failure either. The film is spooky and hectic, creepy and fun; the way Hollywood ghost films should be.
Many critics seem to point to the original 'The Haunting' and compare its perceived merits to this opus. I saw the earlier version at a spooky midnight premier back in the Sixties and disliked its monochrome dreariness, its overwrought central performance by Julie Harris and the cerebral intensity of Robert Wise's plodding direction. The novel was brilliant; that film was inept. Forget comparisons. Book and film can never match each other when it comes to tingling the spine. The closest success has been 'The Innocence' based on Henry James's 'The Turn of the Screw.' But that had a Dalton Trumbo screenplay and Jack Clayton behind the camera so that's another story.
Back to the present. 'The Haunting' has great production values. Hill House is 'played' by Harlaxton Manor in Lincolnshire, England and the magnificent interiors where shot on a California sound stage on some of the finest sets I've viewed. They have to be seen to be believed. 'The Haunting' is not immersed in special effects but when they come they are very acceptable and quite scary at times. No chill down the spine scary but rather head under a cushion thrills. And the sound effects are superb. Listen and thrill.
The acting? Good, bad, indifferent and silly. I'll let you decide who merits those adjectives. The screenplay is effective but perhaps it's best to put aside Shirley Jackson's rending of the yarn as this film unfolds. It's takes a few too many wrong turns and ends up with a plot twist that's downright foolish. Never mind. The trip that far made me forgive all that hysterical nonsense at the end.
'The Haunting' is directed with assurance by Jan De Bont who did 'Twister' and 'The Chase.' A man who knows about fun movies. And, unlike so many contemporary Hollywood movies, this one benefits by being silly. And noisy and fun. It's lovely to look at and delightful to know. You'll watch 'The Haunting' more than once.
The DVD had language choices and a bonus feature with one of the stars - Catherine Zeta Jones - talking about goolies and ghosties and the making the film. It's all very interesting.
I highly recommend 'The Haunting' and if I was back in the review business I'd give it an unhesitating four out of five stars. Just to annoy the other buttock clenched critics who condemned it. It actually deserves three. 'The Haunting' is great fun.


The Seven Storey Mountain
The Seven Storey Mountain
by Thomas Merton
Edition: Paperback

76 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A modern classic of spirituality, 8 July 2001
'The Seven Story Mountain' (UK title 'Elected Silence') is a modern classic - an intimate biography of a man in search of God and finding Him in the great silence of a Trappist monastery. Born in France in 1912, Merton lives in American and grows increasingly disillusioned with contemporary society. The book chronicles his conversation to Catholicism and details his journey from atheism to a life amongst Cistercian monks in Kentucky. 'The Seven Storey Mountain' is a spiritual autobiography for anybody who cares about the quest for the soul's final harbour. It is a delight.
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