Review Date: July 23, 1999
Director: Jan de Bont
Writer: David Self
Producers: S. Arnold, D. Roth, C. Wilson
Liam Neeson as Dr. David Morrow
Lily Taylor as Eleanor Vance
Catherine Zeta-Jones as Theo
Owen Wilson as Luke Sannerson
A hotshot doctor brings three insomniacs to an old, spooky mansion for controlled testing. Unbeknownst to the patients, the good doctor is actually conducting his own cover project that has to do with the psychology of fear.
This movie just didn't scare me one bit. Sure, it creeped and spooked me out a little here and there, but on the whole, it took waaaaay too long to get going, provided very little meat in the plot, went way past its own bedtime, and basically relied on grunts, the muttering of children's voices and over-the-top special effects, to scare us. Well, this film didn't do much for me. And they might as well have called it the "Haunting of Lily Taylor", since she's basically the only character who had any real depth, background or reason to be in the house in the first place. Don't get me wrong, Catherine Zeta was sweet window dressing (despite my continued perception of her faint mustache-see ENTRAPMENT(6/10)), and Owen Wilson was good as the standard "comic relief", but come on people, if you're going to have us sit through two hours in a theater with these folks, how 'bout giving them a little more than one-liners as dimension. Neeson was also wasted as the smart, British guy.
It's all too sad, cause certainly the "idea" seemed like a good one (see THE SHINING (9/10) for a close to perfect example of a creepy gone awry), but the story was thin, the conclusion was laughable (Be gone...poof!) and the special effects? Well, they sure were nice to look at, but not for a moment did one of them scare, or even for a split-second, have me believe that they were anything more than Hollywood special gadgetry. See it for Zeta-Jones, or if you like special effects and scary movies that take forever to get going, and provide very little payback, otherwise skip it and check out the original or the ultimate movie about spooky homes from the netherworld, THE SHINING (9/10).
(c) 2017 Berge Garabedian