It's that time of year, I guess, for us to recycle all of our horror enthusiasms and horror disapproval. I want to like horror films. I want to be scared. I want to be shocked. Unfortunately, I'm more often than not bored and left scratching my head.
So it is with The Haunting.
Praised by many as one of the greatest horror films of all time, The Haunting failed to win me over. I respect it. I found the sound design excellent. I found the voiceover narration to be among the best I've ever heard in communicating an interior monologue running against and commenting on the visual action.
Mostly, though? I was unimpressed by the haunted house story. I was especially unimpressed by how it plays out and how it resolves. The camera tricks and sound design seemed too obvious at every time. Maybe it's because I'm hyper-aware of these things when watching an horror film, my mind's way of protecting me from ever actually having to be frightened by any silly old image. I don't know. I respect the film. I don't much like it.
All that said, there is one very effective moment that moved even me, horror skeptic that I am. When Julie Harris begins dancing among the statues, I could feel all the horror and hurt and strangeness that the film was trying so hard to communicate. That scene works.