Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Horror Movie Challenge #41: "The Haunting of Hell House"

So just to be a snot, I told people this was a combination of Shirley Jackson's "The Haunting of Hill House" and Richard Matheson's "The Legend of Hell House," but it's actually an adaptation of a story by Henry James, who wrote "The Turn of the Screw" and is famous for ghost stories that don't actually show much in the way of true ghostly behavior but instead seem to be obsessed with sexual repression and how it makes people do crazy things.

This story is no exception.  A rich young man falls for a woman of lower social standing, so he can never tell his parents (just like he can never tell them he'd rather be an artist than take over the family business) so he flips out when she tells him she is pregnant, and he takes care of the situation in a way that has terrible consequences.  He's haunted by his decision and his actions, and discovers a kindred spirit in a professor at his school who is similarly haunted by bad decisions in his past.  They hang around and brood together a lot while they're haunted by ghostly visions which may or may not be what they appear.  Like most Henry James stories, this movie doesn't really resolve itself very well, but the visions are creepy and the characters are compelling (even if I'm mostly compelled to punch them in the face).  In the end, this wasn't a bad way to spend a few hours of my time.

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