“It was an evil house from the beginning — a house that was born bad.”
A lonely spinster (Julie Harris), a parapsychologist (Richard Johnson), a psychic (Claire Bloom), and others spend the night at Hill House while it is being investigated for the presence of ghosts. Eventually, Harris begins to believe that the house is calling out for her in some way.
Response to Peary’s Review:
In his review of this “first-rate, thinking person’s horror film” — based on a novel by Shirley Jackson, and recently remade by director Jan de Bont — Peary provides an in-depth analysis of the film’s primary character: Julie Harris’s Eleanor. He points out that because Eleanor is a “virtual nonentity in her life”, she probably feels special for being singled out by the “ghosts” at Hill House; thus, the noises Eleanor hears may very well be subconscious manifestations of her deeper desire to finally be noticed. It is this kind of ambiguous motivation — are the noises real or a figment of Eleanor’s imagination? — that underlies The Haunting‘s success as a psychological horror film. The emphasis here is on atmosphere and characters rather than cheap thrills; and while the film is slow-going at times, it ultimately provides a unique, provocative perspective on the presence of other-worldly visitors in our midst.
- Julie Harris as Eleanor Lance
- Claire Bloom as Theodora
- Atmospheric cinematography
Yes. This is an unusual classic of the psychological horror genre.
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)