The Haunting Movie Poster Image

The Haunting

High-tech remake is dumb and overblown.
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 1999
  • Running Time: 113 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages



Typical horror movie thrills


Mild, including reference to bi-sexuality



Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Social drinking

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie has some scary, intense scenes, but no gore. There's some social drinking.

What's the story?

In THE HAUNTING, Liam Neeson plays a doctor who (contrary to any sense of scientific ethics) invites three people to a spooky mansion for what he tells them is insomnia therapy. In reality, it is a part of his study of fear. The three subjects are Luke, a surfer type (Owen Wilson), Theo, a bi-sexual artist who enjoys being provocative but is basically good-hearted (Catherine Zeta-Jones), and Nell (Lily Taylor), a quiet woman who has spent years taking care of an invalid mother. The house is indeed amazingly creepy, accurately described by Theo as the house from Citizen Kane crossed with the house from The Munsters, with gossamer curtain and gothic carvings.

Is it any good?


This high-tech remake of the creepy classic is dumb and overblown, but some teenagers will have a good time with it, especially if they watch it together. Its only possible merit is that it is too silly to be scary. There are some good special effects and a couple of "boo!"-style surprises. But the plot and dialogue so interfere with the mood the movie is trying to create that they become the best possible protection against anyone -- even a 12 year old -- taking it this movie seriously.

Kids who are genuinely interested in scary movies should watch the original version, directed by Robert Wise and starring Julie Harris and Claire Bloom, to see how subtle story-telling can be much more unsettling.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about some of the serious themes raised by the movie, including the ethics of scientific experimentation, the role of fear in evolution, child labor, and the paranormal, but perhaps of more interest and value is a discussion of why people like to be scared in a controlled environment like a movie, and what is and is not really scary.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 27, 1999
DVD/Streaming release date:November 23, 1999
Cast:Catherine Zeta-Jones, Liam Neeson, Owen Wilson
Director:Jan De Bont
Studio:Universal Pictures
Run time:113 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:intense horror sequences

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 14 years old Written bymetallica September 2, 2012

the first half was good...

... but then it starts to make no sense...ok, so there wasnt really anything bad as far as sex goes, but there is violence and cursing (b----) SPOILER a person (owen wilson) gets decapitated, and i think thats all the violence, really, kinda a bad and cheesy movie
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Kid, 11 years old July 1, 2014


Well the movie was not that scary. And that was a great disappointment to me. Also the affects where cheesy.
Teen, 15 years old Written byevolinag August 26, 2011

So-called "remake" is much worse then the original movie. Some scary stuff.

The 1963 horror movie "The Haunting" from the superb director Robert Wise is one of my favourite movies of all time. This 1999 remake however is cliched, fools around with the story (if you saw the original you will know what i mean) and does not know where to put special effects. Really, if you want to scare someone, then do NOT use CGI effects. There is violence in this movie but nothing too strong. A boy is decapitated but it is not shown in explicit detail. You later see the head rolling (no blood). The movie is extremely scary - for younger children. Teenagers will know what they are about to watch before seeing the movie, and they will most likely have no nightmares. Suitable for teenagers 14 and up.
What other families should know
Too much violence