The Haunting DTS DVD review

Based off not only a book but a 1963 movie regarded as a classic, Jan De Bont's "The Haunting" has alot to live up to. Both the book and original movie are held in high regard so the advent of computer special effects should take this story to new heights. Then again, the man who gave us Speed 2 could completely blow it and make one of the most awful movies in recent years. Yeah, that's more like it.
Liam Nisson plays a professor looking to do a research study on fear and its effect on humans. So, he does the logical thing and places an ad in a local paper for people who suffer from insomnia. Once he brings in his test subjects composed of Owen Wilson, Lili Taylor, and Catherine Zeta Jones, he tells the tale of the incredible mansion which has quite the history. They have no idea that they have been brought in simply to be scared but things begin to happen around the house that were not planned. Not only are his subjects confused, but Liam himself begins to get seriously worried as things really start going haywire around the house. The Haunting is a mess from beginning to end, filled with obvious plot holes, abysmal acting, sad script, and shameful special effects. You simply have to see one of the characters combating a CGI stone statue that has come to life to know just how bad this movie gets. Lili Taylor takes the worst beating. She not only can't act, but is fed some of the most ludicrous lines ever to be spoken in a major Hollywood production. The movie never even becomes the scare fest it claims to be. Unless you've never seen a horror movie in the past 10 years, there is nothing here that will instill fright. The only decent part of the film is the house itself which features some outstanding sculptures and carvings. (* out of *****) The disc itself is admirable and has become popular for one of it's features. That feature is certainly not the video. Though quite good, there is nothing here that simply screams qaulity. Colors are strong, grain is mostly absent, and compression issues are not noticeable. Still, there is nothing here that will impress people enough to just run out and buy this disc. It's a very soft print that lacks the sharpness of many other discs. It gets the job done, but there is better on the store shelves. (***) Oh, still wondering what that feature is? Well, it's the DTS-ES track contained on the disc. Never before has any DVD featured the bass that this disc will put through your receiver. In fact, there should be a very large warning either on the package or before the movie plays. This disc could cause some serious damage to someones sound system if it is set just one notch too loud. Chapter 10 and the very famous chapter 17 are perfect examples of this. The bass isn't the only part that impresses either. The usage of all 3 rear channels doesn't get much better and viewers have little time to waste before they become completely immersed in this movies sound field. The other version on store shelves features a 5.1 track that lacks the punch of this version, but maintains the excellent sound field. (*****) As a signature collection, this disc is lacking in features unlike other discs in the series (Gladiator among others). There are a few trailers and a half-hour documentary hosted by Catherine Zeta Jones. It covers every piece of production but the length limits how deep it can get. There are always some scenes left on the cutting room floor and it would be nice to see those. Maybe they could've made the movie better? (**) It's a shame the best sounding DVD of all time has to contain one of the worst horror movies in recent years. I'm sure it's the only reason this disc has ever left the store shelves. Home theater buffs need to have this disc in their collection, but please heed the warning about the volume level. No subwoofer deserves to go out like this.

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