Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Haunting (1963; Robert Wise)

I decided to shake it up a little (very little) by adding a movie from the 60's (real adventurous, I know). So I bring you the classic "The Haunting" by Robert Wise.

A doctor has decided that he wants proof of haunted houses, so he gets the owners' okay to stay in the mansion shown above, "Hill House". He then hand picks three other people to accompany him and spend time observing the mansion. Shit hits the fan. (I agree, that last part really killed the flow.)

Where to start... I suppose with the scares. It really surprised me how well the scares held up over all these years. One in particular left me in a wee state of alarm. Due to the unseen driving most of the film, the lack of effects available at this era has absolutely no negative impact on the film at all. Some would argue that the lack of effects could limit ones imagination; restricting it to only the ideas they could even remotely construct on film. However, this film gives a feeling off that they knew exactly what they wanted, and it just so happened that it wasn't far off from what they really could pull off (quite convincingly I might add).

I will save some of you time by stating now, yes, there is a trend here. The unseen is always scarier then what is shown to us. My favorable (to put it lightly) review of The Blair Witch Project gives you a taste of how I feel about the unseen, followed by this review (consisting of unseen forces at work) and preceded by The Gravedancers (where I comment on how too much is seen). Some of you might consider this an unfair bias of mine. Well. You're wrong. The unseen is better.

The score is fitting of the era, and actually shows just how long the hectic noises have been used for jumps. The camera stays fresh, keeping a very fine balance in what seems like an amazingly clustered house (house is easier to type then mansion). The camera also shows a keen eye for angles and movement, providing very well done camera sweeps from above (or in circles).

I want to touch back on the house (mansion) real fast. First off, yes, the outside shots are of a real manhouse they found. However, the inside shots are all sets constructed for the film. I can not express enough how unique and wonderful all the sets feel. They each have their own theme going, with decorative statues that you would feel very comfortable around anywhere else but in this movie. I wanted to stress how much this hansion stood out, because for some reason, it really helps add a layer to the background (as in story background, but I guess it literally could be the background...) created for the film, and gives the film a whole other layer to it's personality.

The only solid complaint I can lay down is that I feel this movie lacks the ability to be replayed on a consistent basis, and that is something you should always want in a perfect ten score. Aany other complaints I had weren't important enough to remember, so here you go.

Score: 4.5/5

Notes: Lesbian, Affair (Almost)

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