March 31, 2017
The Haunting (1963).
Review #921: The Haunting.
Julie Harris (Eleanor "Nell" Lance), Claire Bloom (Theodora), Richard Johnson (Dr. John Markway), Russ Tamblyn (Luke Sanderson), Fay Compton (Mrs. Sanderson), Rosalie Crutchley (Mrs. Dudley), Lois Maxwell (Grace Markway), and Valentine Dyall (Mr. Dudley) Directed by Robert Wise (#515 - Star Trek: The Motion Picture and #725 - The Day the Earth Stood Still)
The Haunting (based of the novel The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson) is a psychological horror film that uses its atmosphere and settings to make a a cohesively made movie with a good degree of terror over horror. Wise's direction, along with production design by Elliot Scott and cinematography by Davis Boulton, are the easiest standouts of the movie, all being good at letting the mood be chilling along with cleverly crafted. One of my favorites is the spiral staircase, which is used in numerous shots to great effect. The acting is also good, with Harris making this fragile character easy to root for along with useful to watch. There is just something about her and how she moves and how she talks to the others that really make this character readily compelling. Bloom is interesting, with a good deal of entertainment and alluring nature to her. The rest of the cast is also pretty good at their roles, whether it be scientific (Johnson) or slightly strange (Crutchley). The way that they interact with each other goes with the mood, where numerous characters talk at the same each other, with later scenes having the benefit of sound effects when it is required. The movie is as scary as one lets it be; it doesn't rely on any real horror, but it works on a psychological kind of level of terror that works for the most part. The climax is a fairly interesting one (using some of the aforementioned set pieces), though admittedly Maxwell's character almost derails it (though obviously it matters to the plot), before an ending that closes acceptably enough. It isn't a quick burn to get some chills, but it definitely has enough moments to make it all worth it.
Overall, I give it 9 out of 10 stars.