The Haunting (1999) is incoherent and at parts, hysterical. But it is not entirely the Raspberry it’s said to be.
The Haunting (1999) Synopsis
Three insomniacs are invited to an ornate and creepy mansion to participate in a quack medical study conducted by Dr. David Marrow. Before long, all experience terrifying supernatural activities. One of the participants, Eleanor Vance, soon inexplicably connects with the mansion too. In the process, realizing she might have a dark connection with the mansion’s original owner.
A while ago, I wrote a long listicle on notorious locations in horror movies. Hill House was naturally one of the entries.
Writing that reminded me of The Haunting (1963), which I watched ages ago and loved. Revisiting the synopsis on Wikipedia for that then reminded me of the 1999 remake, which I skipped back then. I soon also remembered all the scorn poured onto the remake when it was released.
Scorn that resulted in the remake earning several Golden Raspberry nominations.
Well, this remake is indeed incoherent, with terribly executed story twists as well as excessive acting. Seriously awful story twists, by the way. And yet, I didn’t find the flick completely unbearable when I watched it last night. Frankly, once I decided not to care about finer details, such as logic, I rather enjoyed the movie. Particularly the hysterical ending.
A lot of that enjoyment also has to do with the manor, which is as macabre and as ornate and as gothic horror house as it gets. I don’t think there’s a single inch of this wicked fortress that’s lacking in something to gawk at. I’d go to the extent of saying it’s even worth bearing with the lame plot just to enjoy the interior.
Interestingly, the CGI effects, which were derided in 1999, aren’t over-the-top to me too. Perhaps they were indeed so back then but with movies such as the Transformer Franchise since, what’s in The Haunting (1999) is almost bland in comparison.
I’d add that over-acting as lead Lili Taylor often did, she also contributed to the silliness of everything at the climax. In a way, that itself is comically entertaining to watch. It’s like an absurd big-bang to send off an hour of meaningless nonsense.
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