Finally, a horror film that doesn't turn on the gore machine nor confuse dread with decibels. One of the most convincing members of the cast is the gloriously creaky old house that sets up the spooky action. [23 July 1999, p.03]
The Haunting can't quite decide whether it's an out-and-out thriller, a psychological drama, or a systematic demonstration of the latest computer-generated effects. But it should attract big crowds for a weekend or two on the strength of its attractive stars and deliciously spooky setting.
From the final product, not only do I not think Jan De Bont has never seen the original Robert Wise film, I don’t think he’s every actually seen a horror film. Have you ever seen a single computer generated effect that scared you, more than just the unexpected sound of a door slamming behind you?
Effects-driven chills rarely work as well these days as good old-fashioned audience imagination (a fact firmly driven home by the breakaway success of The Blair Witch Project). Unfortunately, De Bont has wedged so much bang-pow drivel in his film that it ends up being about as tantalizing as a desiccated Gummi Bear.
Considering that this film was made during the relative infancy of CGI in movies and it uses CGI quite a lot it actually looks quite good. But it doesn’t look as good as the sets! The sets really are amazing, possibly the best practical sets in any movie, certainly in a haunted house movie. The dark gothic vibe is great and really enjoyable to watch. Sadly though it is let down by only an average story, below average writing and inappropriate casting. The acting and direction are good but not enough to really make this anything more than slightly above average overall. Not as memorable as Thir13en Ghosts (2001) which admittedly is a totally different film but also not as good as other family horror films Nightbooks (2021) and The Hole (2009). Certainly worth watching.
Why being so nice to this movie.. it's a pure waste of time. And money. Stellar cast, good cgi, set, everything. Except their source material for ghosts is Ghostbusters. And Beetlejuice. Only it's not a comedy. Some big decision making peeps in there are psychopaths or ****, prolly loaded, but not knowing comedy from horror, right from wrong, what's entertainment for other people etc Crappy to watch overall