Directed by Robert Wise
This is one of those horror films that makes most respectable directors’ top ten lists for all time best horror films ever made. Well, I never pretended to be a respectable director.
Of course, that previous sentence was just one of my typical attempts at misdirection… I no where near disliked this movie, but I didn’t particularly love it either. (And note to self, misdirection is only funny to you, so stop using it…) I will give the film credit for one thing though, it certainly is much scarier than I ever thought it could be. I mean, come on. A black and white horror film shot in the 1960’s? Name one other successful horror film from the 1960’s… Hitchcock and Polanski who? Oh… okay, but I said scary. As amazing as “Psycho” and “Rosemary’s Baby” are… scary? Not so much, no. But, “The Haunting” actually got under my skin. The use of sound is simply incredible. Never once does an actual ghost appear on screen, the house is, in and of itself, the monster of the film, and the horror of this behemoth is portrayed almost solely through sound scape. And that this is done to great effect is nearly mind-boggling. But it is.
The problems I have with this film rest solely on its characters. None of them are particularly interesting nor likeable. They have very little depth to them, and the one character that is “fleshed-out”? Let’s just say I’d rather be locked in Hill House alone for a night then spend five minutes alone with her. But maybe that’s what they were going for… still, it’s entirely disappointing for a film that does so much else right. It’s really just hard to latch onto this film, and as soon as you do, be it from the setting, sound, or amazingly diverse camera angles, some bumbling idiot wanders into the frame and messes everything up for the rest of us. Honestly, I think that had Robert Wise decided to create a film that concentrated solely on the house and nothing else, he could have made a much better film. Ah well, one can dream…