Archive for May 31st, 2010
I watched this at the cinema when it was first release and have no idea why I’ve decided to give it another go now, eleven years later. It’s still as bad as I remember, but not as bad as most people make out. Jan de Bont directs this remake of the classic ‘63 haunted house film and does so with all the cinematic, swooshing pace which gave him his identity with Speed and Twister. The film looks good in a Hollywood kinda way, although the haunted house looks far better on the outside than it does on the inside, where it transforms into a huge glossy studio set which is reminiscent to a theme ride at Universal.
The cast here are great, but it still cannot save the film it’s credibility. Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta Jones, Owen Wilson and Lili Taylor. Bruce Dern is great to see in this too.
What’s the plot? A psychiatrist (Neeson) takes a bunch of people who are having social and mental issues, to spend a night at a huge mansion, rumoured to be haunted. His idea is to keep them awake and try out some techniques to rehabilitate them. Things start to go wrong when Nell (Taylor) sees things in the shadows, and eventually becomes possessed (kind of) and gets the low-down on what’s needed to conquer the evil sprit haunting the house, and to free the condemned souls.
The film works on a level of easy viewing. It’s simple and well, yes it’s simple and easy I guess. The problem I have is there are no scares here. Nothing at all. No creepy bits, no jumps, no weirdness. Nothing. But it goes to show just how difficult it is to actually create a good ghost film. I suppose it’s actually a far greater achievement to create a haunting type film that looks and feels creepy, and probably not advisable to show the ghost either.
Good points? Yes, Cathrine is great here, showing her talent for the American accent, also Wilson for me is a highlight who gives the film a spark of comedy which works for me, but kills all sense of atmosphere if that was what de Bont was after in the first place. Wilson on a rug flying toward the giant fireplace is a brilliantly funny moment.