“That house is not fit to live in. No one’s been able to live in it. It doesn’t want people.”
A recently widowed composer (George C. Scott) moves into a house haunted by the ghost of an unhappy child, whose tragic death is somehow linked to that of an aging senator (Melvyn Douglas).
This atmospheric haunted house flick by director Peter Medak is based on a genuinely disturbing premise (don’t read too much about it online if you want to remain surprised), but is poorly paced and takes far too long to build momentum. In addition, Medak relies too heavily on both wide-angle and low-angle shots — the latter presumably to make us feel we’re consistently viewing the action from the perspective of a (buried?) child, but it quickly feels derivative and overly stylized. Scott is typically fine (if perhaps a tad too stalwart) in the lead role, and his real-life wife (Trish Van Devere) registers an appropriate level of mounting trepidation as Scott’s realtor and amateur-sleuthing-partner (though their relationship remains frustratingly opaque). Ultimately, this one is really only must-see for fans of the genre, who will likely enjoy the intermittent chills and thrills it provides. Best scene: the genuinely freaky seance, which suddenly and effectively shifts the film into high gear.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Some moments of genuinely creepy terror
No; this one is only must-see for fans of the genre, though others may be curious to at least check it out. Listed as a Sleeper in the back of Peary’s book.