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The Haunting Blu-ray Review

Hauntingly bad.

Directed by Jan de Bont and scripted by David Self, “The Haunting” is an adaptation of Shirley Jackon’s “The Haunting of Hill House” novel. In this version, the sensitive and sheltered Eleanor, the personable and sexual Theo and the jokester Luke are invited to Hill House to be researched for insomnia by Doctor Marrow. In reality, it’s only a cover as the Doctor is really researching fear. Unbeknownst to everyone, the house is actually haunted and has a dark past and Eleanor just might be linked to it.

Newly released as a Paramount Presents title (Why? I have no idea), the 21 year old “The Haunting” gets a new Blu-ray home video release. As some might know, “The Haunting of Hill House” has had a couple of adaptations with 1963’s “The Haunting” and Mike Flanagan’s 2018 “The Haunting of Hill House” series and this 1999 take. Alas, this version is by far the weakest. 

Despite boasting lavish production values and sets along with moody and glossy cinematography by Karl Walter Lindenlaub, the big budget horror remake stumbles out of the gate. It takes too long to get going, it’s overproduced, there is nothing remotely creepy about the cliche ridden attempts at scares, the CGI is goofy, the score by the usually great Jerry Goldsmith feels out of place, and viewers have to suffer through cornball dialogue like “Well, you don’t get this from the Martha Stewart catalogue” and “Purgatory’s over. You go to hell.” Jan de Bont and David Self attempt to make this psychological story about family and overcoming fear, but that falls by the wayside in favor of horror spectacle.

One thing is for certain, the cast is stacked with talent like Liam Neeson, Owen Wilson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Virginia Madsen, Bruce Dern, Todd Field, and Lili Taylor. Alas, most of them are wasted here with the exception of the scene-stealing Catherine Zeta-Jones and a lively Owen Wilson who does indeed get to say “Wooow” and have the film’s most memorable moment.


Presentation: 2.35:1 1080p. How does it look? The film has been remastered from a 4K film transfer and the 1080p picture quality looks crisp.

Audio Track: Dolby TrueHD 5.1.How does it sound? Expect a nice layered track.

* Theatrical trailer and theatrical teaser trailer
* Digital copy
* A vintage 27 minute behind-the-scenes featurette hosted by Catherine Zeta-Jones.
* The lone new extra is the 9 minute Filmmaker Focus: Director Jan de Bont on “The Haunting.” Interesting tidbits about Steven Spielberg and the production.

October 15, 2020 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , ,

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