The Brunching Shuttlecocks Features

I don't like scary movies.

I didn't like The Haunting either.

Someday Hollywood will realize that Jan De Bont wouldn't know a good script if it dated his mother, but until that day, we are going to be continually forced to watch some of the most God-awful movies ever made. Here's a brief history of Jan De Bont's films.

Speed - Good movie, good script, surprised everyone by starring Keanu Reeves and not sucking.

Twister - Had some of the most incredible effects ever. But the movie was horrible. You started rooting for the darned wind.

Speed 2 - And you thought Twister was bad. Speed 2 was everything Speed was not, dull, silly, brainless and just offensively bad.

The Haunting - Makes Speed 2 look like, well, not Citizen Kane, but maybe Superman II.

So you can see that any future projects from Jan De Bont are destined to be as entertaining as a liver transplant.

Here's the plot. Four people go to a haunted house.

There's some other stuff about studies in fear and rats in a maze and junk, but nobody's paying attention. They're just waiting for the House to go all Freddy Kruger on everyone. Sadly, it's not worth the wait.

Why is The Haunting so bad? First of all, Sesame Street's Elmo in Grouchland is probably going to be more frightening than this thing. It has all the scares of an amusement park spook house, you almost expect to see a giggling plastic skeleton dangle from the ceiling.

Now that's evil.

The script is also a huge culprit, a thing of evil itself. I mean you're not expecting Sophie's Choice when you go to a haunted house flick, but you can find more interesting dialogue in the Hooked On Phonics textbooks. And the characters are all so DUMB!!!

There is a saving grace in this movie, and it is the set. The House is pretty cool. It does some neat things, plays some neat tricks, and just looks really neat. I wanna live there. But not if it's haunted. Actually, if it's the house from the movie, then I'm not really that worried. If the spirits come around trying to spook me, I'll just laugh at them, kinda like what most people did while watching the movie.

Someone should sit Jan De Bont down and, after beating him repeatedly with a heavy shoe (he needs to suffer for his crimes) make him watch The Blair Witch Project. I haven't yet seen it, though I am looking forward to it, but everyone who has seen it agrees that it is REALLY SCARY. And it has exactly ZERO SPECIAL EFFECTS. Compare that to The Haunting, which has more special effects than an ILM demo reel and is as scary as a minor case of athlete's foot.

However, I do want to point out that it IS possible to make a big-budgeted film that works. "This Ol' Haunted House" might not have been a winner, but it can be done. I would like to continue to encourage Hollywood to spend a lot of money on big summer action blockbusters. Just spend a little of that money on finding and creating a decent script. Really. There are tons of unknown screenwriters who could, at a minimal cost, write you a tight, exciting script. Heck, I'll do if for meal money. Or even a free pass at the craft service spread.

How's the acting? Well, I don't want to say anything bad about professional actors. So I'll just say that after making The Haunting, Liam Neeson started making all those remarks about retiring from entertainment industry. You can begin to understand why.

God, don't see this movie. Please. We need to send a message to everyone out there that we don't want Jan De Bont to make another movie. Ever.

The Haunting gets 2/3 of a Babylon. Anything positive in this movie stems from the set design and effects. But even the really cool effects get tiring after a while. Eventually you hope the stupid house just eats everyone so you can go home.

Editor's Note:

I can't believe it. The SMC gave The Haunting 2/3 of a Babylon and didn't ONCE mention Catherine Zeta-Jones! WHAT'S HAPPENING? Was there an eclipse or something? My world is crumbling around me. Everything that I knew to be true is somehow off. The horror!

the Haunting
Rated: PG-13
Directed By: Jan De Bont
Starring: Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Lili Taylor, Owen Wilson and the Spookiest House on the Prairie.

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