This afternoon, I’m going with something I haven’t seen in a few years: the second version of The Haunting.
Personally, I think the film more or less deserves the critical panning it received, it’s a film you watch for the effects not because it’s an essential anything. For me, it’s probably the last movie that ever scared me. I remember watching it on a rather long break many years ago and then having to go move furniture, and being a bit unnerved. I mean, it’s basically a house that comes alive and eats people as far as the special effects go. What’s not unnerving about that concept? Since then tidbits of Hill House have haunted my dreams over the past few decades: enough to no longer be scary as it became a reoccurring setting for various nightmares.
On the flip side, I’ve never really cared much for the original film. It was very fateful to the novel in my honest opinion, but just not scary. As a horror film: it’s only scary in the sense of kids around a campfire kind of stories, not terrifying, well not when I first watched it fifty some years after the book was written. Perhaps because I view Eleanor’s part in the story more a cause for sadness than a vehicle for terror, which is kind of essential to the novel. Her torment and place in the world is the real terror, not the house or spooky occurrences. Meanwhile, as out of the wall as the ‘99 film is, it tries to rely largely on the horror of the situation rather than the characterizations. The two films have different takes, and the novel’s greater time for exposition means it can leverage a more psychological terror than the simple scares the ‘63 horror film could ablidge.
If you have some time, probably better to read the novel and ignore the rest, or just watch the ‘63 film if you want a decent abridged version of the story. Me? I watch the later film because I remember being like 12, and finding it disturbingly horror.