Archive | August, 2013

Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)

29 Aug

Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)

Smith’s Verdict: ****

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

Francis Ford Coppola’s “Peggy Sue Got Married” is a film that tells a sweet-natured story from the concept of going back in time to a certain point in your life when you feel you could do things dissimilar to the way you did before, knowing what you know now. It begins at a high-school reunion, at which 40something Peggy Bodell (Kathleen Turner) practically relives her past—not only is she reunited (and catching up) with her old friends and acquaintances from the glory days of high school, but she also imagines what things would have been like if she hadn’t married her boyfriend at the time because she was pregnant shortly before graduation. “If I knew then what I know now,” Peggy tells her friends. “I would have done things differently.” She is divorcing her disloyal husband, Charlie (Nicolas Cage), who has been cheating on her and hasn’t been there for her or their two kids.

Peggy and her friends look back on high school memories and notice how times, as well as their classmates, have changed. It turns out Peggy doesn’t quite know the half of it, as she will experience her senior year for a second time. This happens when Charlie shows up at the reunion, she doesn’t know how to deal with the situation, and she suffers a heart attack (I think) and passes out. She then awakens in her 18-year-old body in the year 1960—twenty-five years before. Her 43-year-old mind is still intact, but everything else around her has changed. She relives high school, she hangs out with her friends, she dates Charlie again, she eats with her family for breakfast and dinner, and she even hears her grandmother’s voice again, which almost breaks her heart.

Peggy knows what will happen in the future, but no one else does. With this knowledge, she isn’t quite sure about how to deal with what may or may not affect her life, if she can help it. To start with, she is cold and somewhat distant towards Charlie, who can’t understand why she is acting silly lately. But she also recalls the fun she has with Charlie and relives some of those moments, including “parking.” Though, this particular parking moment is different, seeing as how she is the one who wants to go all the way, while nervous Charlie wants to get his car to start so he can take her home.

Peggy can also say the things she could have said to her parents long ago. She’s nicer and more helpful around the house. And she can even experience life with the people she may not have wanted to or was afraid to have been affiliated with—those include young, Hemingway-bashing beatnik Michael Fitzsimmons (Kevin J. O’Connor), with whom she shares pot, and math-science whiz Richard Norvik (Barry Miller), who is the only one she tells about her predicament of time-travel (she is also able to reveal inventions to him that haven’t been invented yet, to see what he can do for the future—“think ‘high-tech,’” Peggy tells him).

What it comes down to is whether Peggy will change her destiny as well as other people’s destinies, so that if and when she returns back to her old self in her present time, things will have been different from when she left. And one question I’m sure many people will be asking after watching “Peggy Sue Got Married” is whether or not Peggy really did travel back in time. Was it a dream? Did it really happen? I don’t think it really matters whether or not it really did happen, because if you ask me, “Peggy Sue Got Married” is more about an experience rather than much else. It’s the experience of reliving and revisiting what it felt like to be young again and trying to understand whether or not things were better off for you then. You know how people will say that high school is the best time of your life? What if they were right? If there is a way of knowing what will happen to you in the future, or in Peggy’s case, if there was a way of reliving those days because you have already lived the future, wouldn’t you find a way to make it feel as good as it can be? The point here is that it doesn’t matter whether or not you change events in your life—it’s how you can deal with events that are inevitable. And without giving away the ending, Coppola and co-writers Jerry Leichtling and Arlene Sarner, found an effective, subtle way of presenting that message and making a satisfying conclusion and presenting an answer to the question of whether or not Peggy really did time-travel. Some things, you just have to figure out for yourselves, and I admired that about this story.

The theme of nostalgia is present throughout “Peggy Sue Got Married” even before Peggy has her flashback experience. The high-school reunion at the beginning of the film presents what it feels like for these people to find themselves back in the good ol’ days. They’re not only there to provide setups for certain payoffs when Peggy goes back (hell, one character, in a wheelchair, is never even seen again after this opening)—they set the tone for the rest of the film.

And what would you feel/say if this ever happened to you and you weren’t sure of whether or not it was a dream? What if you answered the phone and suddenly there was the voice of your grandmother on the other end of the line? This is a voice Peggy hasn’t heard in many, many years, and there she is on the phone, making a casual call to say hello. What would you say? You couldn’t tell her what would happen to her, but you would know it, and it’d be hard to say anything.

“Peggy Sue Got Married” is a great film when it comes to the theme of nostalgia and the way it presents its story to a puzzling payoff (but in a good way), and it’s also very well-made as you can tell certain Coppola shots (there’s one such optical effect in the very first scene that I’m wondering how it was done). But there’s one very important element to its success, and that is the lead performance by Kathleen Turner. Turner is nothing short of excellent in this film. I don’t know how she was able to play this part in two different ways—as an adult and as a teenager—but she pulls it off in a spectacular performance. Sometimes she’ll even go back and forth between adult and teenager and we can catch on even though we’re just not sure how she did it. How did she change back and forth in certain scenes? Did the lighting help? Did Coppola have anything to do with this? I don’t know, but it’s fascinating to watch Turner play one shot as an adult and then another shot as a teenager, because she knows her character inside and out, and she knows how each side would react to any kind of situation being thrown her way.

I know no one who has seen this movie and are reading the review will not stop reading until I say something about Nicolas Cage’s performance as Charlie, the boy Peggy will later marry and then divorce. Yes, Cage’s performance is slightly odd (but nothing as odd, to understate it, as most of his roles to come later after this) and he would only do this movie if his character’s speech impediment matched that of Pokey’s (and he was almost fired from the movie entirely because of this). But to be honest, I don’t really mind him very much here. Sure, his voice can be a little grating, but Cage gets what it’s like to be an awkward high-school teenager, and he gets the body language down as well as Turner does.

And the other actors, for the most part, had to play young and old versions of their characters—from 1986 and from 1960. They deserve credit too, in their early roles before their profile careers in film and TV, particularly Jim Carrey, Joan Allen, Catherine Hicks, Lisa Jane Persky, and Kevin J. O’Connor. Barry Miller, known at the time for his roles in “Saturday Night Fever” and “Fame,” acquits himself admirably in the role of nerdy Richard; it’s a shame his acting career didn’t go much further. Also in one of her early roles is Helen Hunt, as Peggy’s teenaged daughter. (And also look out for future director Sofia Coppola as Peggy’s kid sister.)

What have I left out? Only a handful of wonderful, delicate scenes that you’ll just have to see for yourself. “Peggy Sue Got Married” is a superb movie with sharp direction from Francis Ford Coppola, an appealing concept, and to top it all off, a great leading performance from Kathleen Turner.

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The Last Picture Show (1971)

9 Aug

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Smith’s Verdict: ****

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

Anarene, Texas. Fall 1951. The weather is either too windy or too humid. The wind blows down the empty main street in the morning, and from looking at it, you’d think it was a ghost town. Even a few tumbleweeds can be seen whisking down the street. There’s nothing special to look at, but for the locals, the three key places to go to are the pool hall, the diner, and the Royal movie theater. All three are run by Sam the Lion, though he sometimes prefers to enjoy time away from town, at a pond called “the tank,” where he takes two local boys fishing (even though there are turtles instead of fish)—he enjoys the setting and always recalls fondly a moment from his past. (He doesn’t like fish, anyway.)

This small Texas town of Anarene is presented as a backdrop for a character study—Peter Bogdanovich’s 1971 film “The Last Picture Show,” a classic that shows the certain death of a small community in a narrative that presents the town’s inhabitants as real people having true-to-life experiences. Taking place in the early-1950s, the film is pure nostalgia for anyone who grew up in that era. But this is an effective film for members of any generation (I was born in the early-1990s) because this is one of those “nostalgic” films that feel nostalgic because even though most of you weren’t raised or coming of age around the time the film was set, you still feel like the situations that occur are real or even had some of them happen to you in one way or another.

The character study that is “The Last Picture Show” follows three important characters—three young people; graduating high school seniors who live in Anarene and are about to step into the realities of…reality. They are naïve Sonny Crawford (Timothy Bottoms), smooth, distracted Duane Jackson (Jeff Bridges), and sexy, rich, manipulative Jacy Farrow (Cybill Shepherd). Sonny doesn’t have much ambition in life and mostly tends to getting himself in situations he can’t out on top of; Duane is his friend who is slick and handsome but is unfocused and mostly tends to ask too much of a girl he’s in a relationship with; and the sexually inquisitive Jacy uses her good looks and wealth is influence any boy she wants into having sex with her…and then dump him. It’s quite easy to label Jacy as a “bitch.” And she is a real bag of tricks in how she cunningly seduces these boys in order to increase her sexual interest and thus, have her continue to do so, which results in her not only dumping Duane, but also going after Sonny, even when he is in somewhat of a relationship. But the thing is, Sonny’s relationship is an adulterous one.

Presented in glorious black-and-white (which I know was chosen due to technical problems and aesthetic reasons; I don’t care either way because it looks great), “The Last Picture Show” shows a year in the lives of these young people, from November 1951 to October 1952. Sonny and Duane are best buddies and co-captains of the local high school football team, which the locals constantly mock in how inept they are at the fundamentals. Jacy is Duane’s girlfriend, which gives another reason for Sonny to envy Duane, aside from the fact that he’s handsome, popular, and amusing. Sonny is nicer and more sensitive, but his girlfriend is an unpleasant one, so they break up…after more-or-less a year of being together.

At Christmastime, something unusual and fascinating happens to Sonny. He finds himself in an affair with Ruth Popper (Cloris Leachman), a depressed 40-year-old woman who is married to Sonny and Duane’s football coach. Sonny doesn’t know everything about her marriage, but he does understand that Ruth is not happy, and she sees what a kind, loving young man he is and invites him into bed. Of course, this affair is doomed and anyone could tell you that, but in the moment, no one could convince you at all. Not even those who know about the affair (it’s a small town where most people seem to know everything that goes on). And this goes on for quite a long time, until about summertime.

Meanwhile, Jacy has her eyes set on wealthy Bobby Sheen (Gary Brockette), whom she meets at a naked indoor-pool party. The only problem is, as long as Jacy is a virgin, he’s not interested. And this is where she shows her true colors in the film, as she toys with Duane for him to have sex with her and then dump him for selfish reasons. Where are her parents, you may ask. Well, her father practically lives on the living-room couch in front of the TV while her mother, Lois (Ellen Burstyn), (get this) advises Jacy to sleep with Duane so that she’ll know that sex isn’t all that it’s built up to be. (Though, Lois will sometimes sleep with one of her husband’s co-workers.) She does understand what Jacy’s rebellion is about, and she knows it won’t end well.

(And by the way, Jacy’s parents are the only parents we see in this film. Sonny and Duane’s parents are hardly ever seen at all. And we don’t see their home life either. Just an observation—not a judgment.)

As you guessed from the descriptions I’ve already given for the story (or stories, if you will), “The Last Picture Show” features more sex in manipulation or adultery than in tenderness or warmth. Well, there is the latter in the relationship between Sonny and Ruth. It’s a need to connect with someone that makes it special in comparison to what Duane and Ruth continue to go through. But reality eventually (and unfortunately) will take its toll, leading to the “stuff-happens” effect that seems to be apparent throughout this film.

I almost forgot where I was going with that last paragraph, and that’s what this film can do to you, I guess. A lot happens in the two-hour-six-minute running-time of “The Last Picture Show,” a good deal of it having to do with the sexual encounters these kids face. This all happens mainly because when these kids don’t have the diner, the pool hall, or the theater to go to, the next place they can think of, aside from home, is the bed (or, in the case of one particular scene, a pool table—don’t ask). And midway through the film, that does seem to be the main place to go, especially after the aforementioned Sam the Lion (Ben Johnson), the soul of Anarene, is put out of the picture, leaving Sonny the pool hall and the theater in danger of closing down. Without the soul of Anarene comes the certain death of the town itself, with less ambitions for the people still living here and the human condition only decreasing with each passing week. No wonder the sex in this movie is mostly out of lust rather than love.

“The Last Picture Show” was filmed in 1971, but is set in the early-1950s, and the odd thing is that it’s easy to forget that. That’s because the feel of this setting in the film is exactly right. It really looks like a small town in the ‘50s, and we as an audience are taken there. Credit for that not only goes to the director Peter Bogdanovich, but also to cinematographer Robert L. Surtees, and the set design deserves a lot of credit as well. (Though, I’m not sure the explicit nudity in the film would have been allowed in a drama back in 1951.) Shooting it in black-and-white helps as well, strangely. And you really get a feel for this small rural town in Texas; you really feel the environment that these people live in.

And you also get a good sense of who these characters are, and what sort of people they will become, and despite some of their deeds, you do sort of hope for them to do better than they do now in life. Duane may smarten up now that he’s joined the US Army (and gone off to fight in Korea), Jacy may learn a bit about what her mother has been trying to tell her, and Sonny may be stuck in town, but may make the best of what he has, though it may be difficult (especially in a few crucial moments in the final act, each having to do with grief, regret, and resentment). The characters’ stories are rich and with many levels to them that you want to imagine what their lives will be like.

Timothy Bottoms is solid as Sonny; Jeff Bridges brings a rugged appeal to Duane; and Cybill Shepherd wonderfully brings her role of Jacy to where it can be seen as a three-dimensional dream-girl (she’s not invulnerable and only uses her moxie and body as a way to make things exciting in this town). Of the supporting cast, Ben Johnson is excellent as Sam the Lion; you really feel that he truly is the “soul of Anarene” and without him, there’s hardly a way for the town to be cured of the illness that’s killing it. The scene in which he tells Sonny and a mentally-disabled boy, Billy (Sam Bottoms, Timothy’s brother), about a time he cherished back when he was younger is just wonderful. His presence is an important one, and even though he disappears from the film midway through, it doesn’t make us forget him. Cloris Leachman is equally great as Ruth, capturing the character’s warmth, loneliness, and pain. Also good are Ellen Burstyn as Lois and Eileen Brennan as Genevieve, a waitress at the diner.

Anarene, Texas is dying. By this time, many decades later, it may already be dead. The title of the film is symbolic for meaning the closure of the movie theater and thus the loss of a place where teenagers can meet, hang out, make out, etc. Once that’s gone, there isn’t much else, except for loneliness and harshness. That’s what I got from the meaning of the title “The Last Picture Show,” even though the theater has no key role in the film. In the end, when the theater closes, there is that sense that the people in this town have lost something special. They may not know it until later on, but there is something disappearing there. Peter Bogdanovich’s “The Last Picture Show” is a highly accomplished slice-of-life drama with a feel for its setting and strong characterization. It’s a thoughtful, well-put-together nostalgia-trip that is powerful no matter what generation you belong to.

Hoosiers (1986)

2 Aug

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Smith’s Verdict: ****

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

I never played high-school basketball. I was the oddball that played “b-ball” from 4th grade to 6th and then decided to focus on other things, like the school band and choir. But I never backed down from a little game in P.E. class and also, maybe going to a game wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do on a Friday night, but back then, what else was I going to do? And truth be told, I somehow found myself enjoying the game—it’s alive, intense, uplifting (when it can be), and entertaining, and you really find yourself rooting for the home players. That statement can be used to describe “Hoosiers,” which is my favorite film about basketball and is as much fun as attending a high-school basketball game.

“Hoosiers” is based on the true story of a small-town Indiana high school basketball team that, in the early 1950s, surprised everyone by not only progressing to the Indiana State Championship, but also winning. Despite that story to back it up, “Hoosiers” doesn’t use the “based on a true story” caption early on to manipulate us, and that’s probably a good thing, because much of the movie is focused on how the triumphant underdog concept can fully come through. This is a movie that is all about heart and you could see through the writing, direction, and acting that everyone put their all into this. The result is a wonderful movie.

Right at the opening credits, you can tell we’re in for something special, and nothing has necessarily happened yet. The first few shots are of a car going down rural streets of the Midwest in the autumn season, with fallen leaves swirling around by the wind. Assisted by a nice, soft music score by Jerry Goldsmith, you truly get a sense that you are there. And since we already feel at home in these shots, we feel throughout the rest of the movie that we’re in a good place to be.

Making that long trip is Norman Dale (Gene Hackman), who has come to the small town of Hickory, Indiana to coach the local high school basketball team, the Hickory Huskers. This would prove as a challenge for quite a few reasons. One is, he’s being asked to replace a coach that everyone in town knew and loved, and so he’s constantly being tested at just about each turn by a local—it doesn’t help that he bans parents and other supporters from practices either. Another is, there aren’t many players on the team—indeed, there are seven and their star player, Jimmy Chitwood (Maris Valainis), is taking a year off from sports to focus on his academics. And also, this is Dale’s chance to redeem himself from a mistake he made coaching many years ago, and if he screws up now, his coaching career is over for good. This is a changed man, and he’s out to prove it. He uses disciplinary tactics to further boost the team’s confidence and athletic ability, and though they don’t start out very well, he is able to make them into a team that can play good basketball.

One of the things that further increase the townspeople’s displeasure is that Dale hires the father of one of the boys, who is Shooter (Dennis Hopper), the town drunk, to come on as an assistant coach. While his worst moments show him as a drunken buffoon that sometimes embarrasses his son, his best moments show how much he knows about basketball, which is why Dale decides to take a chance and bring him on and give him a chance of redemption as well.

This decision, along with quite a few losses, lead to a petition signed for Dale’s resignation. Just as a clear verdict is about to be brought up, Jimmy steps up and says that he’ll finally play again…but only for Dale. (This is one of the best scenes in the movie—it’s the perfect “up-yours” to cynical people.) Soon enough, they all play better and start winning, and their successful run eventually leads to a spot in the State Finals, which is incredible for a small school.

With Dale redeeming himself, Shooter shaping up and getting himself a new, respectful image, and a small school about to show all of Indiana who they really are, “Hoosiers” is not only a film about basketball and the community that celebrates it—it’s mainly about redemption. And in that respect, this is a powerful film because the relationships that these people have in this town make it all the more worthwhile because of who they were and who they will become. By the time the movie is over, with the Big Game and the ultimate win, you feel like these people have truly done well for themselves and are happy for them, just as you’re excited at the success of this basketball team. The basketball scenes are riveting and well-shot, but they’re not the center of the film. It wasn’t supposed to be. But with this theme of redemption, it works even better as a sports underdog story.

And you do get a feel of the game itself—the coaching tactics, the basketball drills, the sense of the gym, the excitement of the crowd, the thrill of the game, etc.—which is why “Hoosiers” is regarded as, for good reason, “one of the best sports films ever made.”

The rock of the picture is the performance by Gene Hackman, who is excellent here as Coach Norman Dale, giving him full characterization and a three-dimensional portrayal. He has the competitive spirit down to a T, but he has a real human side to the character as well. He nails the quiet moments as well.

Dennis Hopper, as Shooter, was honored a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his performance in this film, even though the actor himself believed he should have been nominated for “Blue Velvet,” released that same year. This must have come as a surprise for most people who believe that weaker individual characters are often ignored by the Academy, and while that wasn’t what he played in “Blue Velvet,” that’s definitely what he played in “Hoosiers.” Shooter is a loser, to be sure, and in need of gaining self-respect and respect from his son. But Hopper makes us care about him and want him to change that it is a sympathetic portrayal of such a man, and I think the Academy made a good choice in voting.

There’s another character in this movie—Myra Fleener, played by Barbara Hershey. She’s one of the few Hickory locals who have experienced big city life before moving back here because it’s where she has what she needs. She’s a bit cold toward Dale because she doesn’t trust him to stay away from Jimmy, as she sometimes looks out for him ever since his father died, so that he doesn’t push him into playing basketball again, before Jimmy decides for himself he wants to play again. But of course when she does see the true man Dale is, she realizes she can trust and possibly love him. This is admittedly one of the weaker aspects of the movie, as it does sort of make her into a regular love-interest for our protagonist, but I’ll let it slide because she does have a reason for starting out the way she does. And Hershey does a fine job in the role.

I’m also glad that actual young athletes were trained to be actors, instead of the other way around, because this way, you get natural performances from the young men who play the team players. They may not be the greatest actors, but the script allows them to stay within the limitations of their range.

I’ve tried, but I don’t think I can think of a better basketball movie than “Hoosiers.” You know how they say, “It’s not if you win or lose, but how you play the game?” That serves as an effective metaphor for this story of redemption on and off the court. This is a well-made, effective, wonderful movie that earns its title as “one of the best sports films ever made.”

The Haunting (1999)

2 Aug

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Smith’s Verdict: *1/2

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

You know how Robert Wise’s 1963 low-budget haunted-house movie “The Haunting” was an effective chiller by showing very little while creating atmosphere, thus scaring audiences without the visible presence of illustrative mayhem? You want to see that effectiveness thrown out the window for a remake?

To start with this review of Jan De Bont’s 1999 remake of “The Haunting,” I probably can’t talk about this one without also talking about another horror film that was released the same year as this one—“The Blair Witch Project.” “The Blair Witch Project” was a little film that managed to scare audiences the same way Wise’s original “Haunting” did, with its same minimal concept: showing very little. That film was one of the most inventive horror films to come around in a long time, whereas this 1999 version of “The Haunting” is unintentionally silly, and unbelievably so. It’s amazing how far this movie misses the mark on why the original film worked as a frightening experience.

The movie starts out fine, strangely. The setup is actually well-done and surprisingly intriguing enough to suck us into the story. We meet our protagonist, Eleanor (Lili Taylor), who is more of an insecure person nearing a nervous breakdown than a mentally-tortured oddball like in the original. This surprisingly works, as Eleanor is a character with actual complexity and Lili Taylor does a consistently good job of playing her. Eleanor has spent years looking after her invalid mother until her death, and is now being thrown out of her apartment because of rights in a will. Not knowing what to do, she responds to a newspaper ad seeking research subjects for a sleep study at a secluded manor called Hill House. Run by Dr. David Marrow (Liam Neeson), the true purpose of the study is to study psychological responses to fear—he picks Hill House because the house is seemingly haunted and telling stories about its history may bring the response he needs for the study. His subjects are Eleanor, Theodora (Catherine Zeta-Jones), and Luke (Owen Wilson).

While I’m complimenting the setup (except that this “insomnia-study” seems a little too contrived, especially seeing as how in the original, the people knew what they were getting into from the start), I should really praise the overall look of Hill House. The production design here is outstanding. The locations and sets look fascinating, and they’re definitely enough to keep our attention for good chunks of the film. There’s a particularly terrific scene in which Eleanor and Theodora explore a good chunk of Hill House and find all sorts of surprises inside. Everything is so rich in detail that it nearly (nearly) puts the original film’s haunted-house splendor to shame.

And one more thing to be said—the first supernatural occurrence that the characters experience in Hill House, with Eleanor and Theodora reacting to something forceful pounding outside their bedroom, is creepy enough. But that’s only the first one, and the film goes downhill real fast after that point. After a nicely-done setup, “The Haunting” takes a brutal nosedive into something unworthy of the original film. And the best way to start with just how much it doesn’t care about its predecessor is to mention the overall use of computer-generated imagery. It makes its first appearance midway through the movie, as we experience all kinds of ghosts who make all kinds of appearances to frighten Eleanor, such as a face appearing in a pillow. And from that point, the film has lost me. It gives us wall-to-wall CGI effects (and particularly bad CGI too) and also thrusts us into a badly-written, horribly-crafted second half that only gets sillier and sillier.

Has director Jan De Bont (“Speed,” “Twister”) ever heard of subtlety? I mean, come on—really? Did he really think that “The Haunting” would be more effective if he just showed what the original film didn’t? This was his biggest mistake for the film—showing all, making it all lose credibility once the effects start to pop up. And it only gets worse with a story that somehow involves Eleanor having some sort of connection with the ghosts (or rather, the cheap-looking “good ghosts” whose only purpose is to chant Eleanor’s name in singsong and whisper “solemnly” for her to “find” them) and the other characters (Markway, Theodora, and Luke) are amazingly slow to catch on, and then when they do, all sorts of crazy things happen—crazy enough to make us laugh sometimes. But I couldn’t laugh; I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

Lili Taylor, like I said, does a consistently good job at playing Eleanor, and Catherine Zeta-Jones does fine as Theodora (though to add to the non-subtlety that the movie offering, the character’s possible bisexuality, only implied in the original, is…not so implied; in fact, it’s blatantly obvious, though I guess it had to do as much as possible to exploit Zeta-Jones’ body). But Liam Neeson is stiff as a board and Owen Wilson is given nothing to do, except point out what is happening right in front of us (I miss Russ Tamblyn’s one-liners).

The ending is the biggest slap to the original film’s face. If you thought the film was bad enough already, this is just horrible. The psychological tension of the original film is thrown out the window for more CGI, more crappy storytelling, and bad filmmaking. It’s just dumb, dumb, dumb. To call it a disappointment would be understating it.

The original Robert Wise film “The Haunting” is my personal favorite horror film, which is why it hurts me to find just how much this remake doesn’t work. “The Blair Witch Project” shows more respect towards the original than this film does. That film at least left its scary aspects to the viewer’s imagination, which made it scarier because it was what we didn’t see rather than what we did. Maybe Jan De Bont should have thought of that before showing and telling all.