The Turning Review: 3 Ups & 5 Downs
2. Over-Shown Spirits
Robert Wise's The Haunting (1963) is celebrated as one of the most genuinely terrifying haunted house films ever made, even to this day. Is it littered with wailing spooks popping out at the camera every five minutes? No, it bloody well isn't. The horror of Wise's film comes entirely from mood, pacing and the believably horrified reactions of the characters; it most certainly doesn't come from unconvincingly computer-generated ghosts who, to be honest, may as well be shouting "boo" at the camera.
By all means, show us your ghosts, but please do so sparingly and tastefully. Quint and Jessel, two of the most frightening ghosts in the history of the haunted house genre, are reduced to nothing more than tacky ghost train actors. They deserve so much more than The Conjuring Universe treatment.
What was attempted through the unsubtle overuse of CGI spirits could have, and should have, been achieved instead through the unsettling manner of the children. Implications of the relationship between Miles, Flora, Quint and Jessel are more or less unchanged from the previous versions of the story, but this adaptation could have done so much more with this plot point - it feels like a bit of a wasted opportunity for some genuine chills that aren't "boo'"-induced.