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De Bont and Self have also embellished the plot, particularly the back story, with so many unnecessary twists (none of which serve much purpose) that it becomes wearying. And inevitably, during the second half, the filmmakers pull out the stops, with constant computer effects, showing us quite explicitly what never should have been shown at all. The monsters and morphs and digital sound make for an occasionally effective shock, but more often than not, the concreteness turns the audience's fearful anticipation into disappointing, even comical, reality. By the end, The Haunting has become a farrago of schtick that we've seen before (and done better) in Burn, Witch, Burn, Alien, and Poltergeist, among dozens of others.
The first-rate cast really tries its best: It's primarily Taylor's movie, but Wilson (Bottle Rocket) is perfect, and Zeta-Jones is almost as good.
With The Haunting arriving in theaters so close to The Blair Witch Project, it's impossible not to make the obvious comparisons between two films that take such obviously different approaches to horror. What's ironic is how much closer Blair Witch is in its strategies to the original Haunting than is the new Haunting.
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