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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Haunted (1995)

The movie starts off in the early nineteen hundreds with a little boy and girl, twins, running and playing on a large English estate. They are having fun, but the little girl hits her head and falls into a pond. Her brother tries to save her but is unsuccessful. That little brother grows up to be a professor of psychology who investigates psychic phenomenon. He mostly does this to expose fakers. After seeing him bust a séance we follow as he goes to an isolated estate at the behest of Nanny Webb.

He is picked up by a beautiful woman named Christina who drives him to the rambling old house. There he meets Nanny Webb as well as Christina’s brothers Robert and Simon. There is an odd dynamic between the siblings as they are overly affectionate with each other. Like to creepy levels. Nanny claims that she is being haunted, though not without a lot of prompting from the professor. That night spooky stuff starts to happen and David, the professor, is convinced that one of the brothers is responsible for it. Things ramp up and Nanny Webb becomes very disturbed, which leads to the family calling in Doctor Doyle. She doesn’t like that much at all.

After arriving we also see that David begins seeing what appears to be the ghost of his sister in the distance. As if she was trying to lead him to something but can’t quite communicate with him. Is Nanny Webb crazy? Did David catch her crazy? Or is someone messing with both of them? In the end all is explained and we are given some closure… with a twist!  

I’m trying to keep this review as spoiler free as possible because I really liked Haunted and don’t want to ruin it for anyone. The movie is paced decently, though at times is a slow burn. But if you pay attention there are clues and all sorts of spooky shit happening. I could give examples but then I would be giving hints that might spoil things for you. Trust me though that you will want to pay close attention to enjoy the movie. Not only because of the clues but also the things that are happening. The movie is packed with lots of visual tricks mostly in camera. Again, you really need to pay attention to Haunted to get the most out of it. If you only half watch it, then you might as well skip it altogether.

The decision to introduce the house to both the audience as well as the professor in the daylight was a cool choice. In a way it makes the later scenes in the dark all that much spookier and more surreal since we have some idea of how things are. There aren’t any real jump scares as the story leans more heavily into creeping you out with odd noises, doors that seem to open by themselves, and shadows that seem to have things moving in them. Like I said you really need to keep your eyes on the screen with this one.

When I was doing my research on this movie I found a lot of folks talking about Kate Beckinsale and how naked she is in it. Before you go off Googling for images I have bad news, it was all a body double. One that isn’t even close to her appearance in other scenes. Same goes for Aidan Quinn. It seems as if either they had no nudity clauses, or the producers went back afterwards to spice things up. Funny thing is you keep seeing their faces so clearly not them. That said both Quinn (playing the professor) and Beckinsale are great in their roles. They have some actual chemistry, and their relationship drives the ending of the movie. Can’t say much more than that. Spoiler free, remember?

While I did guess at the big twist I still was interested in Haunted until the very end. To be honest it was a guess and they kept it vague enough that I wasn’t sure I was right. It wasn’t until after the movie was over that I realized it was based on a novel from James Herbert, who wrote some very cool horror stories. Not sure if it follows his book closely but having read may of his other books (I’ve reviewed The Fog and The Spear here at the site) it doesn’t surprise me that the plot was so engaging and fun. I recommend tracking down a copy of Haunted and giving it a watch.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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