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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

The Haunting (1999)



Reviews and Comments

As is typical of a Jan de Bont movie, The Haunting looks great while you're watching it, but the second the credits roll, it starts to fall apart. For the most part, the characters are defined only as far as they need to to serve the plot -- it's hard to imagine any of them have a life outside the movie -- and the few times extra character attributes are introduced, they come off extraneous and irrelevant.

Yet I liked the movie if for no better reason than its gorgeous set design (and the special effects, which are pretty much all in service of enhancing the set) and the, well, haunting atmosphere it creates. The mansion in which the film is set is a character all its own, and it's a fascinating, dazzling character. I enjoyed the movie on that basis alone.

Was it scary? It depends on how you define the word. I wasn't scared, but I did feel the tension of the storyline and was wrapped up in its thick eerie mood. It isn't a great work of horror, or even close, but I liked it for what it was and give it a qualified recommendation.

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