TechnoFILE is copyright and a registered trademark © ® of
Pandemonium Productions.
All rights reserved.
E-mail us Here!
The Haunting

"The Haunting" on DVD

Home is Where the Heart Stops

by Johnny Bray

You guys have GOT to see the special effects in this flick!

They are just downright in-freakin-credible - which is extremely important for a movie with such a horrible central plot.

Based on the book 'The Haunting of Hill House' (I guess they changed the name because it bore too much resemblance to this fall's 'House on Haunted Hill'), Dreamworks' "The Haunting" is about some professor-type guy who wants to conduct an experiment on fear. So, like anyone would do, he puts an ad in a paper asking anyone with sleep deprivation to call him.

Of course there are four people who call: the incredibly gorgeous rich girl (Catherine Zeta-Jones, who else?), the wisecracking, gorgeous-rich-girl-obsessed guy (Owen Wilson), the straight man (woman in this case, played by Lili Taylor), and the girl who leaves five minutes after they arrive after being whipped in the face by a piano string (come on, how many times have we seen that?).

It turns out that Hill House was built by Hugh Craine 130 years ago for his wife and the children they would never have. Craine was known as a swell-old-chap back then, but it isn't until someone invades his house that we find out the awful truth…a truth that could explain why all the housekeepers leave as soon as it starts to get dark.

Liam Neeson stars as the professor-type who drags them all there under false pretense, but even a talented actor such as he can't save the movie from its flat dialogue. Wilson and Zeta-Jones are allright, but Lili Taylor's whiney voice gets so annoying after a while that you almost want to listen to Britney Spears one more time (NOTE: I said 'almost').

Directed by Jan de Bont (Speed, Twister), with the screenplay coming from David Self, The Haunting is a great movie if you're not worried about a believable plot. But, as mentioned, the special effects are phenomenal, and at some points, the movie can make you jump six and a half feet in the air, something which The Blair Witch Project didn't come close to doing.

One of the greatest things about the movie is the look given to the house itself. When the camera pans over the friggin' huge house it looks friggin' awesome - which means production designer Eugenio Zanetti has done his job.

The trailers did the movie justice, though they never really hinted as to what the plot was about (it's a good thing, too), instead showing you a bunch of the effects with just enough of Catherine Zeta-Jones to keep you interested.

Honestly, although I, personally, thought the movie was great, I have to say it has one of the worst endings I've seen since Dragonheart's. But then, I'm into the whole haunted house thing, so the movie was preaching to the converted.

If you want to actually be scared - for a change - this movie can do it for you.

If you're looking for plot and screenwriting, however, you might want to go elsewhere.

"The Haunting" is a Dreamworks' "Signature Selection" release, which means it has Jan de Bont's "Jan Henry" scrawled in gold across the front. Fortunately, there's more to the extras than that...

The widescreen disc is in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, and the disc looks and sounds really good. For real extras, you get a half hour documentary (hosted by a rather wooden Zeta-Jones) on "The making of the film", a reasonable liner essay, trailers, cast/filmmaker info and production notes.

The Haunting, from Dreamworks Home Video
113 minutes, Widescreen (2.35:1), Dolby Digital
Starring Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Owen Wilson, Lili Taylor
Produced by Susan Arnold, Donna Arkoff Roth, Colin Wilson, Screenplay by David Self
Directed by Jan de Bont


Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think













Support TechnoFile
via Paypal

TechnoFILE's E-letter
We're pleased to offer
our FREE private,
private E-mail service.
It's the "no brainer"
way to keep informed.

Our Privacy Policy

Updated May 13, 2006