The Haunting (1999)

Is this what passes for horror these days? Get an Irish Jedi, a Spanish sword fighting hot tamale, an indie queen, and the co-writer of Rushmore and Bottle Rocket in a creepy home and have curtains blow in the shapes of faces? Is there anyone out there truly terrified of curtains?

From Jan de Bont, the director most known for making cows fly, comes possibly the weakest horror pic ever assembled on two legs. This is no different than the weekend drive-in where they showed all the wretchedly corny movies of people in giant plastic costumes slowly walking and terrorizing young teenagers in love. Except now the costumes are far more expensive. Beyond that nothing has changed.

The story is a bit of a mystery. It’s light when there needs to be more meat, and heavy when it needs to explain itself. It even goes a step further into fulfilling the dreams of many by making Catherine Zeta-Jones bisexual. And of course then there’s the contrived happy ending that seems like something they tacked on from the outcome of a test screening.

The best asset The Haunting has is the utterly beautiful and breath-taking house and sets. You’ll hear it’s name around Oscar time for set designs, and most likely on the winner’s ballot as well. I was wrapped up in the scenery and fell in love with it. Maybe this is a trick by the movie so you don’t notice how bad it really is, well it almost worked. But this isn’t an episode of This Old House, though that might have been scarier.

With the aid of some cheap jump scares and splashy effects, The Haunting registers nothing in the world of frights and fear. It’s really unintentionally funny at many many parts. In fact the audience I saw this with was laughing far more than they were screaming. So you could label The Haunting as the funniest movie of the summer if you wanted. Some movies are just born bad.

Nate’s Grade: D+

About natezoebl

One man. Many movies. I am a cinephile (which spell-check suggests should really be "epinephine"). I was told that a passion for movies was in his blood since I was conceived at a movie convention. While scientifically questionable, I do remember a childhood where I would wake up Saturday mornings, bounce on my parents' bed, and watch Siskel and Ebert's syndicated TV show. That doesn't seem normal. At age 17, I began writing movie reviews and have been unable to stop ever since. I was the co-founder and chief editor at (2007-2014) and now write freelance. I have over 1400 written film reviews to my name and counting. I am also a proud member of the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA) since 2012. In my (dwindling) free time, I like to write uncontrollably. I wrote a theatrical genre mash-up adaptation titled "Our Town... Attacked by Zombies" that was staged at my alma mater, Capital University in the fall of 2010 with minimal causalities and zero lawsuits. I have also written or co-written sixteen screenplays and pilots, with one of those scripts reviewed on industry blog Script Shadow. Thanks to the positive exposure, I am now also dipping my toes into the very industry I've been obsessed over since I was yea-high to whatever people are yea-high to in comparisons.

Posted on July 19, 1999, in 1999 Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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