The Haunting

The Haunting is like this really cool toy you’ve seen on TV, with all the gadgets and lights and sounds, but when you open the box and stick your hand in, it’s nothing but moldy cheese and smelly shit. Yet ANOTHER example of a big studio absolutely destroying the entire genre of modern horror. Offensively bad and actually insulting. I’m DYING to hear from some one who would actually recommend this dreck. Although it is quite deserving, I’m wondering why Wild, Wild West got completely “buzz-fucked” this summer, yet The Haunting somehow avoided the pre-release slaughter usually reserved for such big-budget, laughably written, special effects wastelands such as these.

This boring crap made me so mad! OK, there’s a bunch of mildly familiar actors and Liam Neeson. (I don’t care WHAT the budget of this movie was, Liam is slumming here.) There’s about as much plot exposition in the first 3 minutes as there was in The Lost World. So now we’re at this big creepy mansion, right? Yeah, if the Haunted Mansion at Disney World is your idea of terror. Throughout the entire movie, I was expecting Casper to come flying out and some stupid character’s hair would stand straight up and they’d scream: “A G-G-G-G-G-G-HOST!!!!” Absolutely nothing happens for the first 70 minutes or so, except for the following things:

Lili Taylor walks into large, empty room and says “Hello?” (Seriously, if I drank a beer for every time she does this, I’d still be drunk.)

Catherine Zeta Jones acts like a lesbian, smirks a little and proves that she is, indeed, made of balsa wood. (albeit balsa wood with great tits.)

Owen Wilson tries to mug and be comic relief. Unforunately, the script is about as funny and interesting as the side panel of a Puffed Wheat box.

Liam Neeson tries to walk through his scenes as quickly as possible, desperately trying to remember that he was Oskar Schindler, dammit! (I love the scene where he flips out, frothing at the mouth, and Zeta smacks him.)

Things move. That’s it. That should be the title of this movie: Things Move. Statues, beds, carpets, curtains, everything except the plot moves a lot. I feel terrible saying this, because a friend of mine worked on the computer effects in this movie, but he’d also be the first one to agree that films like this are like cakes with nothing but icing, and just as nauseating. (I can’t believe I just borrowed an analogy from Three’s Company.)

OK, what else? Lili Taylor is so unbelievably BAD in this movie, you start to wonder why they didn’t edit her out and replace her with one of those water coolers that occassionally go “BLORP!” I mean, how good of an actor do you have to be when all you’re required to do is be upstaged by a fireplace? Her line readings are completely off, and she honestly seems more confused than anything else. But Catherine Z. Jones is really awful. She tries to bring some kind of weird bisexual vibe to her character early on, then drops it,I guess when she realized that the only logical audience for this crap would more likely be staring at her chest for sustenance, and not sexiness.

A perfect example of how shoddy this movie is: We are introduced to two minor characters and one is injured. The two then leave the mansion. Not only are these two characters never seen again, but none of the remaining characters seem to remember they even existed! They just vanish from the plot entirely!

See if you can make it through Liam Neeson’s thrilling “collapsing staircase” scene without laughing, and I challenge anyone to not be annoyed at the end, where we’re treated to a ghost straight out of a considerably scarier film, Ghost.

Jan De Bont proves once again that he couldn’t direct shit to stink if he had final cut. A slap in the face to fans of horror movies, good movies, and logic.

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