Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Making Monsters #10: The Haunting
The movie's overt "Boo!" moments are so few that they have a lot of oomph when they arrive. One of the most memorable is the scene where the characters are in a locked room and, accompanied by booming noise on the soundtrack, the door appears to warp inward from the force of something very powerful trying to break in. It's a very simple effect - a rubber door being pushed by crew members - that is frighteningly believable thanks to Wise and his crew's care to keep the story grounded, not to mention his cast's convincingly terrified reactions. I like a horror movie that skillfully piles on the gore and monster makeup as much as anyone, and at least one movie I've yet to write about this month takes a much more pyrotechnic approach to the haunted house story to brilliant effect. But it's healthy for the horror fan to be reminded sometimes about moments like this that rely on the power of the imagination. It's telling that 1999's remake of The Haunting, a CGI spectacular, is mostly forgotten, while that same summer saw two smash hit horror movies, The Blair Witch Project and The Sixth Sense, that owed a great deal more to Wise's atmospheric masterpiece.