The Haunting (1963)

The Haunting
Directed by Robert Wise
Written by Nelson Giddings from the novel The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
1963/USA
Argyle Enterprises
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental

Theodora: Haven’t you noticed how nothing in this house seems to move until you look away and then you just… catch something out of the corner of your eye?

Jack-of-all-trades Robert Wise made a haunted house movie truly scary through implication learned at the hands of Val Lewton.

Many residents of Hill House have died shocking deaths during the previous 90 years of its existence.  Local people are thoroughly convinced it is haunted and none will be there after dark.  Dr. John Markway, a researcher in the paranormal and supernatural, invites a carefully curated list of people with paranormal bents to spend a few days investigating the house.  In the event, all of these drop out save psychic Theodora (Claire Bloom) and Eleanor Vance (Julie Harris), an emotionally fragile “outsider” who somehow believes that the mansion may be her real home.  Along for the ride is skeptic Luke Sanderson (Russ Tamblyn) who stands to inherit the house and doesn’t want any dark rumors depressing its market value.

I’ll not reveal much more except that this film takes the haunted house concept very, very seriously while still leaving it open that some of the more horrific occurrences may be aided or created by Eleanor’s mental state.

It takes more and more to give me the shivers the longer I am on this journey.  This movie does the job right.  I was yelling at my TV set “don’t go up those stairs!”.  The acting is all great and the black-and-white cinematography super atmospheric.  Recommended.