Friday, October 10, 2014

The Haunting (1999)

When her invalid mother dies, Nell isn't sure what to do since she's cared for her for years.   Her sister decides the best thing for both of them will be to sell their mothers apartment, which basically means sis wants some money.

Nell, whose feeling lost and abandoned, volunteers for a sleep study.  She's hoping to not only solve her sleep issues, but to figure out what to do with her life.  She's always let other people control her, and is excited about being on her own.

She arrives at a mansion and meets Theo and Luke who also volunteered to be subjects.  Dr. Marrow and his assistants show up later.  They arrive without any equipment, barely ask any questions,  hand out paper tests, and give no details on what they will be doing while in the house.  That's because the sleep study is a cover for Marrows actual research which is how people react to fear.  Oh that's just great since you're in a massive mansion which is essentially an uncontrolled environment and at least one of your subjects is mentally unstable.

Marrow tells the group  about the owner of this opulent mansion.  Later that night, Nell starts to experience various phenomenon. Based on what the spirits tell her, she believes that the owner was an evil man who murdered numerous children used as child labor to build his home.  Oh dear.... things aren't going well for poor Nell as she climbs a rickety old spiral staircase and has to be rescued. The question is, are these spirits only appear in Nells head, are they tricks set up by Dr. Marrow to gage his subjects fear, or is the place actually haunted by an evil spirit, and if so will everyone die?

This is a remake of the 1963 horror classic, The Haunting.  The original has atmosphere, tension and filled me with an uneasiness. It's also got a better story line.  The new story involves an evil wealthy man who uses child labor to build his dream mansion, but murders the children when it's convenient.  The sets are opulent and and there are many special effects. Luke's personality is distracting and more appropriate to something comedic, where it just seems out of place in this film.  So I'd recommend the original over this one.

Also I kept wondering who is paying the Dudleys (caretaker and cook) to care for this place?  They come out everyday to clean and do maintenance work.  And why the hell don't the Dudley's warn anyone who decides to stay there, rather than saying that they leave at dark and won't come back till morning, cryptically implying certain doom will result from spending the night?  Damn Dudley's... this all could have been avoided if they'd been straight forward about the crazy mansion.

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