Movie Mom

Movie Mom


The Haunting

posted by rkumar
D
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Profanity:Mild
Nudity/Sex:Mild, including reference to bi-sexuality
Alcohol/Drugs:Social drinking
Violence/Scariness:Typical horror movie thrills
Diversity Issues:None
Movie Release Date:1999

This high-tech remake of the creepy classic is dumb and overblown, but some teenagers will have a good time with it, especially if they go in a group. Its only possible merit is that it is too silly to be scary. There are some good special effects and a couple of “boo!”-style surprises, so it can be just the thing for those early parentless outings.

Liam Neeson plays a doctor who (contrary to any sense of scientific ethics) invites three people to a spooky mansion for what he tells them is insomnia therapy. In reality, it is a part of his study of fear. The three subjects are Luke, a surfer type (Owen Wilson, a bit less spacey than the part he played in “Armageddon”), Theo, a bi-sexual artist who enjoys being provocative but is basically good-hearted (Catherine Zeta- Jones, as divinely gorgeous as she was in “Entrapment”), and Nell, a quiet woman who has spent years taking care of an invalid mother (Lily Taylor, far from the indie films for which she is best known).

The house is indeed amazingly creepy, accurately described by Theo as the house from “Citizen Kane” crossed with the house from “The Munsters.” Every gossamer curtain and every gothic carving screams “watch me because I am going to come to life later on” and in that, at least, we are not disappointed. What does disappoint are the plot and the dialogue, which so interfere with the mood the movie is trying to create that they become the best possible protection against anyone — even a 12 year old — taking it too seriously. R.L. Stine books and even Scooby-Doo epsisodes are scarier.

Kids who are genuinely interested in scary movies should watch the original version, directed by Robert Wise and starring Julie Harris and Claire Bloom, to see how subtle story-telling can be much more unsettling. Parents may want to talk about some of the serious themes raised by the movie, including the ethics of scientific experimentation, the role of fear in evolution, child labor, and the paranormal, but perhaps of more interest and value is a discussion of why people like to be scared in a controlled environment like a movie, and what is and is not really scary.



Previous Posts

How Do Movies Show Time Passing?
Someone once said that movies are "pieces of time." A few take place in "real time." Alfred Hitchcock's experiment, "Rope," unfolds in just the time it takes us to watch it, all in what appears to be one seamless shot. But others take place over days, weeks, years, even generations. Slavko Vorkap

posted 8:00:40am Jul. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Boring TV Makes You Fat
A new study finds that boring television leads to mindless snacking and that leads to putting on pounds. So, watch programs that excite and engage you. Or, if the show is boring, turn off the television.

posted 8:00:05am Jul. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Switched at Birth and the End of Life
I'm a big fan of ABC Family's Switched at Birth and have appreciated its complicated characters, honest and heartfelt relationships, and compelling storylines, as well as its unprecedented, in-depth portrayal of the deaf community. Last week's episode may have been the all-time best (SPOILER ALERT)

posted 3:59:49pm Jul. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Comic-Con 2014
It's here!  San Diego Comic-Con begins Wednesday night in San Diego and I'll be there.  This is my favorite event of the year, a chance to find out what everyone will be watching, listening to, playing, and otherwise enjoying over the next few years.  As I always say, this is the Iowa caucuses of

posted 8:00:20am Jul. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Wish I Was Here
My intention was to review Zach Braff's new film without mentioning the controversy he stirred up in funding it via Kickstarter.  My view was that what mattered was the movie itself, and the kerfluffle over how it was all paid for was beside the point.  But it turns out that it is the point.  "Sc

posted 7:21:07pm Jul. 20, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.