Director: Robert Wise
Cast:Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, Russ Tamblyn, Fay Compton, Rosalie Crutchley, Lois Maxwell, Valentine Dyall, Diane Clare, and Ronald Adam
The Haunting is just that, haunting. It is not a slasher. It is not gory, It has a strong atmosphere. This is a film that relies heavily on stimulating emotions and getting those little hairs on the back of your neck to stand on end. It allows the imagination of the viewer to run wild, creating an experience that is uniquely creepy for every member of the audience.
It follows a scientist into a home that is apparently haunted. He brings a small group of people he has hand selected to the home who have had supernatural experiences in the past. Most of them take the experience in stride but one of the young participants, Eleanor Lance becomes increasingly distressed by the home. Eleanor Lance is played by Julie Harris whose performance carries this film. Claire Bloom also stands out at the only other female in the house. She comes across as simultaneously supportive to Eleanor Lance and at the same time judgmental and condescending. There also feels like there is a certain tension between the two that is enjoyable to watch.
Another element of the film that is especially impressive is the cinematography and the sound design. This is a film that utilizes the skills of a expert filmmaker to deliver the chills, not gory encounters and CGI like so many films that have been released since The Haunting was released in 1963. This is a ghost story for those who love the medium of film in the purest sense. In some respects this strength of the film may also be its weakness, since many modern audiences crave explicit content in horror films. This reviewer, relishes a film that is able to creep an audience out without simply relying one hundred percent on gore and violence.
As a side note, fans of early Bond films will enjoy Lois Maxwell (Moneypenny, from so many of the earliest Bond movies) in The Haunting, who has a key, but small role in the film.
Also, fans of the rock band White Zombie will notice a line from the film that was sampled and utilized at the beginning of the song Super-Charger Heaven on the album Astro-Creep: 2000