The Haunting
** BM
Starring: Lili Taylor, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Liam Neeson, Owen Wilson

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I saw this film two days after seeing "The Blair Witch Project." That is a genuinely disturbing piece of work. This was laughable.

Perhaps I'm unfairly biased, because a few years back, I was in a play called "The Uninvited." It was a really cheesy haunted house play, a lot like this film. I know how hard it is to deliver very contrived, very stupid and unnatural dialog to further a melodramatic story like this along. However, this is an UPDATING of the old film of the same name. Therefore, any script rewrites should have DEALT with that problem by making the dialog more UP-TO-DATE. If you're gonna fall back on someone else's idea for a movie, the least you can do is make it a bit more relevant.

Lili Taylor, who is apparently brilliant according to my friends, but I can't remember her in anything but "Pecker," has the hardest time with this cornball dialog because she has to deliver the most of it. Catherine Zeta-Jones, who is quickly pissing away the opportunities she got from the Zorro flick by choosing crap scripts like this and "Entrapment," also seems stiff and unnatural most of the time. Owen Wilson did his best, too, but you can't really be interesting unless you have something interesting to say and aren't just given plot points you must mention to move the story along.

The film did have some very cool visuals at times, and it also had some very stupid ones. It relied on cheap scare tactics like things jumping out suddenly at people. If a film has to rely on that, it sucks, plain and simple.

The first time I saw all those baby head carvings looking in the same direction with big dopey grins on their faces, I wanted them to break out into a rousing selection of Jackson Five tunes. Unfortunately, they just tried to be creepy, and it didn't work. Liam Neeson on the crumbling staircase? I wanted him to pull out a lightsaber, leap up to the balcony and go fight Darth Maul. The stupid carousel in the middle of the house and that dumb hallway where books were strategically placed in water for no reason? Ridiculous attempts to be creepy later and they didn't work either.

I laughed through a lot of this. But I did have a decent time lambasting it. So I guess it succeeded in that sense.

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