Oct 112020

The Haunting, even with its $80M production budget, was a moderate hit at the box office ($180M) and despite a spooky production design, the story was weak and the visual effects was well overdone.



The Haunting
— Paramount Presents —

Genre(s): Supernatural Horror
Paramount | PG13 – 115 min. – $29.99 | October 20, 2020

Date Published: 10/11/2020 | Author: The Movieman

Director: Jan de Bont
Writer(s): Shirley Jackson (novel); David Self (screenplay)
Cast: Lili Taylor, Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta Jones, Owen Wilson

Features: Featurettes, Theatrical Trailers
Slip Cover: Yes
Digital Copy: Yes
Formats Included: Blu-ray
Number of Discs: 1

Audio: English (Dolby TrueHD 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.35
Subtitles: English SDH
Disc Size: 44.05 GB
Total Bitrate: 45.28 Mbps
Codecs: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C

Paramount provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.


Plot Synopsis: This horror tale focuses on visitors to the secluded mansion of Hill House who have been called to the isolated location by Dr. David Marrow (LIAM NEESON) as part of a study on insomnia. However, Marrow is really investigating fear, and he plans to scare the subjects, including the introverted Nell (LILI TAYLOR), the quirky Luke (OWEN WILSON) and the seductive Theo (CATHERINE ZETA-JONES). Unfortunately for Marrow and everyone staying at Hill House, the manor is actually haunted by an evil spirit out to torment its guests.

Quick Hit Review: The Haunting is a supernatural horror movie from 1999 and pretty quintessential for that period of time. It’s a movie that I didn’t care much for the last time I saw it (probably 10+ years ago) and seeing it again, wasn’t all that fond, giving it the same rating in fact. The film has a lot going for it with a nice cast and great atmosphere with a creepy castle. However, under the direction of Jan de Bont, who made a name for himself with Speed and Twister, squanders any opportunity to either make a truly scary film or at the very least, just plain fun. This was neither scary nor fun.

One of my issues is with Lily Taylor, a fine actress who overdoes it during her manic episodes that came off as laughable, and in fairness that’s probably more on de Bont but I didn’t have a whole of sympathy for the character. But the biggest problem is the usage of the CGI, which it seems during this time in cinema was used to the extreme (thanks to de Bont’s own Twister amongst others), playing around with tricks and trying new things never seen before. Here, where the climax was CGI-galore and while the effects weren’t terrible for 1999, takes out any danger because it lacks any weight, which is something that happens today when you look at the Transformers franchise or even Avengers: Endgame.

On the plus side, even though he doesn’t get much character development, Liam Neeson provides some charisma to the cast and Catherine Zeta-Jones looks as fetching as ever, and even has some wonderful flirty scenes with Lili Taylor. Oh, and Owen Wilson is in this in a time when he was dabbling in both drama and comedy. Not sure what his purpose was in this, wasn’t quite the comic relief but also was an unnecessary character, albeit has a funny death.



This is the latest Paramount Presents (#10) release and comes with a slip cover with a foldout front cover with the original poster artwork.

Filmmaker Focus (9:14) is a new interview with director Jan de Bont discussing his work on The Haunting and providing stories from the production.

Behind-the-Scenes Featurette (27:12) is from circa 1998/1999, it’s a TV-like special hosted by Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Also includes the Theatrical Teaser Trailer (1:16) and the Theatrical Trailer (2:23).


VIDEO – 4½/5

The Haunting is the latest Blu-ray from Paramount to receive a newly remastered transfer, taken from a 4K scan. Presented in its original 2.35 widescreen aspect ratio, this 1080p high-definition picture looks great, detail is incredibly sharp especially on the more close-up shots and colors are fairly vibrant even with the darkly lit scenery. I didn’t really notice any significant instances of aliasing or artifacts, so does appear to be a clean transfer for a movie that is probably an afterthought for many.

AUDIO – 4½/5

The disc comes with a strong Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track and although a fair portion of the movie is filled with dialogue and some ambient noises, when the supernatural begins with poundings in the house or especially during the finale, the LFE kicks in for an excellent boost.


OVERALL – 3¼/5

The Haunting, even with its $80M production budget, was a moderate hit at the box office ($180M) and despite a spooky production design, the story was weak and the visual effects was well overdone. On the positive front, the video and audio transfers are both great and at the right price, it’s worth picking up.




Check out some more 1080p screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.

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