The Haunting 1963 [poster art]
I had never seen this film, directed by Robert Wise, before. It was one of those 'heard of it but never seen it' sort of films for me.
This film builds a lot of suspense quickly when an unknown force starts hammering on the bedroom walls of Elanor and Theo, the camera seeming to focus on the voice and footsteps leading the audience to believe it is really there on the other side. The anticlimax of this persistent hammering, in my opinion, is that it just finishes and the force just seems to walk away. The argument to this could be that it is the house itself that is thumping through the walls, trying to get to Elanor. BBC said 'a genuinely startling film that still retains effective tension.' In this perspective, it really brings the film and also the house to life and makes it that much creepier to think that the house is alive and doing these things to them.
Elanor and Theo [film still]
The fact that you dont actually see anything physical adds to the overall dramatic effect of the film, as it allows the audience to imagine for themselves what the creature could possibly be like. Of the 'ghost', IMDB said 'the film manages to build tension steadily without ever showing the 'ghost,' therefore leaving you on the edge of your seat throughout.' Many of the audience can probably relate to the strange happenings of the house, the bangs and creaks during the night as it cools which after watching this film play at the back of the mind during the night when they're in their own homes. However, NYT had a different view of the film by saying 'this antique chiller drags to an ectoplasmic end, you'll agree that it does have just about everything in the old-fashioned blood-chilling line except a line of reasoning that makes a degree of sense.'
Hill House [film still]
I found this film quite slow to begin with and didnt really engage with it properly until the characters spent the first night in the house. The introduction to the characters was a bit too long and uninteresting in my opinion, but it does mean that it allows the audience to get to know them better and a bit about why they are at the house in the first place.
IMDB The Haunting, 1963. Robert Wise http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057129/
BBC The Haunting, 1963. Robert Wise http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2000/12/12/the_haunting_1963_review.shtml
NYT The Haunting, 1963. Robert Wise http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9A06E4D81431E73BBC4152DFBF668388679EDE