Cinema: The Haunting

Directed by Jan De Bont

The real estate is the star in this updating and betrayal of Shirley Jackson's 1959 novel, The Haunting of Hill House. Four folks (Catherine Zeta-Jones, Owen Wilson, Lili Taylor, Liam Neeson) are trapped, for no compelling reason, in an old mansion the size of Versailles--not the palace, the city. Doors rattle and children's voices whisper from the dead in this poltergeistian theme-park ride and spooky radio show that never add up to a movie. There's one good shock, with a skeleton in a fireplace; but finally the film collapses in its own special-effects idiocy.

--By Richard Corliss

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