Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Goosebump Moment -- The Haunting (1963)

Okay, enough with the funny....back to the creepy and suspenseful.

The Haunting is a perfect example of how to make a ghost story (along with The Innocents -- see my earlier post).

Based on The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, the film follows an ill-fated paranormal investigation by a group of four relative strangers (two men and two women).

But the director (Robert Wise, between West Side Story and The Sound of Music) doesn't go for cheap thrills. Instead, he uses the camera, the music, and the big empty house (sets?) to build a sense of isolation and dread. And he brings you into the story without any real effects and without really showing anything at all.

I think that's key. It's always scarier to worry about what you're going to see, or thought you may have seen, rather than seeing the monster straight on. Watch what he does in the bedroom scene in the clip below....

Shock cuts are great, but the scare wears off rather quickly. Movies like The Haunting stick with you long after the credits roll.

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