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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The Haunting: A descent into madness

The+Haunting
Photo by Provided
The Haunting

In the modern, saturated world of Hollywood horror films, “The Haunting” reminds audiences of the time before studio-produced horror movies succumbed to the use of repetitive tropes and storylines.
Robert Wise’s 1963 film is nothing short of a horror masterpiece, and despite the films age, it continues to haunt audiences today.
Written by Nelson Gidding and Shirley Jackson, the plot is simple, and it’s because of this simplicity that the film’s atmosphere is able to take over. A 90-year-old New England house is being investigated for supernatural evidence by an anthropologist, John Markway. He invites researchers to help him in his investigation of the ominous house, and the haunting begins.
The direction is by far the film’s best quality. Wise, who won Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Picture for the beautiful full-color musical West Side Story, deviates from the style that won him these awards and thrusts his audience into a black and white mystery thriller. However, the thriller is anything but black and white in its story.
Most films of this period use stationary cameras that give the atmosphere of the film a stale feeling, but Wise and his cinematographer, Davis Boulton, break from this norm. They use shots that continue to define the genre of horror today. In many scenes, the spiraling and swooping motion of the shot parallels the characters descent into madness.
One worry that many audiences have when viewing an old horror film is the state of special effects during the time period compared to those we have today. Most of the practical effects used in classic horror films seem unrealistic compared to the complex CGI effects employed by modern horror films. However, Wise uses minimal special effects throughout the film. He relies almost entirely on the tone of the film to set the creepy atmosphere. There is one scene in particular that special effects are used. It’s arguably one of the most famous scenes in the film, and certainly one of the best uses of special effects in this genre and of horror films during this time period. Describing this fantastic scene will spoil the experience, so go and see it for yourself.
Ultimately, The Haunting provides a great film experience with many hair-raising and bone-chilling moments. The haunted house investigation will lead audiences down a spiraling journey into the heart of paranoia of the unknown. Even with our knowledge as modern filmgoers, this mystery, thriller and, horror film is one that will leave audiences on the edge of their seat the entire time.
The Haunting will be shown at the Queen Theatre in Bryan at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 11.

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