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Volume 1 Issue 3 - So Much To Answer For, So Sick Of Talking About It

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Fan Club Of One: A Good Review of The Haunting
Things That Go Bump (Crash, Roar, Slice) In The Night

By Will

Welcome back, America, to the weird world of Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House. Opening weekend's long lines were made up of all ages and blood types, who laughed AND screamed at all the right moments. This is not a shot-for-shot remake using famous comedians, a la last year's Psycho mis-fire. This remake follows the book to a point, then goes down its' own dark hallway. Whereas the original black and white Haunting was a creepy slice of Gothic Americana. This blood-red remake is pure grand guignol, richly deserving its' PG-13, but wisely avoiding an R. Fans of ghost stories have a lot to seek their teeth into.

Pre-release gossip was pretty bitchy. Most critics eulogized the original, even if they hadn't seen it yet. The point is, kids go to movies to "see" something, and there's lots to see in this Haunting. Shirley Jackson was famous for being oblique and macabre, with surreal family problems ranging from stoning Mommy in "The Lottery" to lacing a family reunion with arsenic in "We Have Always Lived In This Castle". The Haunting started off as a smug modern debunking of the supernatural and degenerated sharply into madness and death. Critics of the Robert Wise version could never figure out who was being haunted, and who was doing the haunting. They're still fighting over this, which accounts for the original's classic status.

The new script brings us up-to-date with an equal blend of humor and fear, with Jan DeBont's ensemble being just right. The main twist is Lili Taylor as Nel, who is not the tortured neurotic as Julie Harris played her, but a true spooky movie heroine. As the famous lesbian-updated-to-bisexual, Catherine Zeta-Jones is very yummy. Liam Neeson is surprisingly NOT awful, and Owen Wilson is great.

Kudos to DeBont for his expert use of sound, which uses Gary Rydstrom's soundtrack as much as Jerry Goldsmith's music for maximum effect.


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