It’s Halloween week so there obviously had to be something spooky to watch and for a little bit of classic style chilling, there’s little better out there than The Haunting. 50 years on, this classic is perfectly capable of making you sleep with the hallway light on.
The simple story of a scientist doing paranormal research and inviting people to test the house along with him, this film’s DNA can be found in hundreds of pictures made since whether it be the core cast of characters – the weak one, the seemingly slutty one, the arrogant comic relief and Captain Exposition – or in the idea of the horrors being connected to past trauma of one of the lead characters. The beautiful black and white photography and incredible sound are used with expert skill by the filmmakers marshaled by the somewhat unheralded legend that is Robert Wise, who knows that scares are most effective if you care about the characters experiencing them. Tere is a genuine atmosphere of tension generated, something which happens here with a surprising relentlessness for a film of its age.
Somehow still not available on Blu-Ray (though both the 100th anniversary of Warners and the 50th of this film next year would surely point to that not being the case for long), The Haunting is a genuine horror classic which will do you very well at any time of the year, never mind the spookiest.
In a move which shows that the gap between theatrical and VOD release is getting ever smaller, Ralph Fiennes’ Shakespeare adaptation has arrived on Netflix after only being in cinemas in January. While it will be a number of years before you see something big like The Dark Knight Rises coming to subscription streaming so quickly, this is a sign of the times, and a move which could engender more interest in this flawed but still worth-a- watch number.
Bringing the story of Coriolanus up to date in terms of setting with Barry “The Hurt Locker” Ackroyd’s cinematography lending a gritty, visceral feel to the military-led situations and the idea of rabbles being roused by the incredibly selective gaze of media, most pointedly in an actual in-studio debate. This film bravely combined with dialogue which is very true to the source, lending an stagey feel which is at odds with the visuals but works in creating a unique atmosphere nonetheless. It is easy to get a little lost in the dialogue at times, and it does feel like maybe Fiennes should have tried something a tad easier to pull off for his first stab behind the camera.
He does get some cracking performances from his cast though, with Vanessa Redgrave giving a strong and rather chilling performance as a very powerful matriarch figure, Gerard Butler doing something rare in actually acting and putting in one of his best screen roles as a result, and while Jessica Chastain, James Nesbitt and Brian Cox all play in the margins, they do make an impression nonetheless.
It’s certainly not perfect, but Coriolanus deserves maybe a little more love than it has had so far.