Type of paper: Essay

Topic: House, Novel, Literature, Cinema, Horror, Movies, World, Suspense

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/12/14

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Imagine being in a dark house and hearing the eerie sounds of an unknown voice calling out from a far off distance and then the figures of unknown people emerging from walls. The idea is quite scary to many readers and movie lovers, but this scare is exactly what Jackson and director, De Bont attempt to bring out in both presentations of “The Haunting of Hill House.” With the major characters Eleanor, Theo, the doctor and Luke, Jackson and De Bont draw the readers and viewers into a world of ghosts as each storyteller protest the social injustice and cruelty meted out to a number of children. Roger Egbert’s review of De Bont’s presentation of the novel is similar to that of Dustin Dustman. Both critics harshly suggest that De Bont does not do justice to the novel as the director removes the gothic elements of horror and excitement with the movie. On the other hand, Erin Horakova seeks to justify De Bont’s poor presentation based on the fact that movies cannot replicate the true events of a novel. The 1999 adaptation of the film The Haunting is effective in some ways and ineffective in others ways as De Bont takes away much of the suspense, horror, and excitement that is common in a horror novel and present in characters, setting, and dialogue of Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House.”
The setting of De Bont’s The Haunting is probably the most effective adaptation of the novel. In chapter one, before Eleanor gets out of the car, she notes that Hill House is as hard to get into as heaven, but De Bont does not build on this and the scariest part of the spectacularly haunting looking mansion is the moment that Eleanor digs in the fire place and finds the skeleton, (Putman, par. 1). The viewers anticipate that the skeleton would pounce on Eleanor, but true to form, Eleanor carries out the best scare tactic that De Bont could conjure: she runs away and the skeleton goes back to “sleep.” Why did De Bont even bother to put the scene into the movie?” Putman correctly suggests that the movie takes almost all forms of “character development, excitement, horror, and common sense,” (Putman, par. 2) from an otherwise horrifying work of the supernatural and created “a tedious excursion into visual effects that never look very believable or threatening to begin with,” (Putman.par. 2). In other words, Chapter One of the novel sets the tone for the ultimate gothic horror as the strong doors on the house would suggest that any form of escape from the mansion would be next to impossible. De Bont attempts to show this as the supernatural prevents the characters from smashing through the windows. Montague is hurt in the process and Luke loses his head when he suggests that they burn the house to the ground. Still, De Bont takes away the anticipated gory details of the blood that one expects to find in a horror movie with this scene. Instead, he glosses over the details of the death of the enraged Luke.
Interestingly, much of the gothic elements that come with Jackson 1959 novel become lost in transition as the 1999 film showed that director, De Bont, eliminated the true dangers of the psychological aspect of the novel and opted to show a house that is alive. Additionally, the psychological troubles of Eleanor also gets lost in translation as De Bont shows a carefree Eleanor at the start of the movie which is unlike Jackson presentation of a psychologically imbalanced character. Jackson shows the “liminal, psychological treatment of its horror premise,” that cannot “be easily replicated by the comparative “objectivity” of film,” (Horakova, par. 2). In the first scene of the movie, the director glosses over Eleanor’s reaction to the house and the housekeeper. She giggles with a childlike exuberance which is different from Jackson somber character. Arguably, “The Haunting 1999” serves as one of the most misguided version of a novel even though it had the likely of becoming an excellent rendition of the novel. With legendary movie stars such as Liam Neeson and Catherine Zeta-Jones, one would have expected an extravaganza of an extraordinary haunting and scary house. But, De Bont sucks the thrill from Jackson’s frightening novel and instead leaves the readers wondering: what happened to the excitement of a horror novel?
Eleanor Vance or Eleanor Lance represents the classic gothic hero or heroine. Clearly, the house is alive and even if the reader is unable to visualize or value the reality of the house in the novel, De Bont use of special effects in the movie does not detract from the life of the house, but that is as far as scary goes. Egbert notes “one or two moments are truly scary,” (Egbert, par. 5) including end shot. Eleanor is the victim in both the novel and the book even as she tells herself: "I can be a victim or I can be a volunteer." While Jackson gives details of the hardships of Eleanor’s life prior to Hill House, De Bont opts to focus on a stronger woman with a purpose to help the lost souls. Interestingly, the novel presents the idea that Eleanor is neurotic and drives the reader to question her credibility as she appears disturbed. De Bont presents Eleanor as a victim of the supernatural and Theo, Luke and the Doctor try to protect her instead of despising her as Jackson intended.
Both Jackson and De Bont use the characters to build the horror in their works. Arguably, the simple switching in the color of the room in the first Chapter leads to the significant exclusion of the moment that Eleanor meets Theo, the stroll along the outside, and the casual belief that the setting would take place indoors and adds a claustrophobic element that Jackson did not intend to happen. In watching the film, one hoped for the anticipated opening paragraph that suggested the gloom and horror that Jackson writes: “No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality;” (Jackson, p. 1) and “Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within;” (Jackson, p.1) while “whatever walked there, walked alone.” But, De Bont does not expand on this theme. Of course, the movie must eliminate a number of scenes because of the time constraints, but De Bont’s choice to eliminate the fresh relationship and the promises between Eleanor and Theo detracts from the or callous treatment that Theo gives to Eleanor and addition, De Bont presents Theo as a carefree character instead of Jackson’s harsh and unkind Theo as she joins forces with Luke, (Jackson, p. 206). There is contrast in the reversal in the roles of Theo and Eleanor as Eleanor implores Theo to take her back with her (Jackson, p. 206) and not the opposite. The reversal in these roles create an imbalance as one is left to wonder why De Bont chooses to make Theo suggest in the final scenes that Eleanor should move in with her in her loft when clearly that was not Jackson’s intent.
The movie is a creation grounded in the typical old-fashioned conventions of a horror movie, but changes because of the know-it-all attitude that points to the death of spookiness. Jackson gives a clear account of the history of the house in Chapter 3, but De Bont chooses to reveal the history of the house as Eleanor explores the library after the ghosts appear. There is no surprise here as the only scary aspect of the ghost lies in the skill of the special effects. The momentum of the threat that the ghost poses obviously got lost in translations as De Bont missed the chance to make the entrance of the ghost an important factor in the story. Clearly, Jackson does a better job of building the suspense and horror of the house and draws the reader slowly into the world of ghosts. Jackson’s Dr. Montague shares his knowledge of the mysteries of the house. But De Bont throws the viewers right into the supernatural world on the first night at the house. Somehow this detracts from the suspense that one would expect in a horror depiction. Furthermore, De Bont takes out the scenes that Jackson intentionally added to show that Eleanor would be put out of the house in Chapter 5 because of the hatred she feels about slipping away; Theo’s blood covered clothes; and Theo’s move into Eleanor’s side of the space that they shared. This editing of the events shows the opposing views of the characters and causes some amount of confusion for those who have read the novel. In the end, Jackson shows that Eleanor dies when she loses her sanity and crashes into a tree. De Bont rules out Jackson’s presentation of Eleanor’s as a suicide in her car. He presents Eleanor as a martyr who gives her life to Crane in order to save the souls of those who had died in the house. Still, the fact that Eleanor knowingly kills herself despite the differences in the circumstances that leads up to her death are similar in that they are both suicidal endings in some respect.
In concluding, Jackson and De Bont present the supernatural world at Hill house in different ways. The most obvious difference is the speed at which De Bont reveals the mysteries of death and the world of the supernatural. Jackson takes her time as she slowly heightens the suspense and fears in the readers while Jackson throws his viewers into a whirlwind of activities from the onset. De Bont shows less sympathy to Eleanor’s negative anticipation of returning to her home. He casually mentions this event as he makes light of the harsh treatment that Eleanor faced at home. The world of the supernatural is less clear in De Bont’s rendition of Hill House as he makes less reference to Craine’s presence in the house. For Jackson, the house is not the major character. Jackson though focuses on the way Eleanor seeks to alienate herself from the other characters who believe that she possesses the spirit of the house. In contrast, De Bont’s characters attempt to protect Eleanor from the onset as the spirits in the house attempt to draw her to their plight. The horror beginning but s simple in the n the events is mild at first but increases with each chapter. In fact, Jackson clearly evokes fear in the readers as she creates scene after scenes that reminds the reader of the fear of the dark or of the supernatural. Contrastingly, De Bont kills the suspense and thrilling gothic tale that Jackson hoped to use to keep the readers wrapped tightly under a sheet.

Works Cited

Egbert, Roger (1999, July 1) “The Haunting 1999” Viewed at
http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-haunting-1999 Accessed March 8, 2015
Horakova, Erin (2012) “Celebrating Shirley Jackson: The Haunting of Hill House and We Have
Always Lived In The Castle” Viewed at http://www.tor.com Accessed March 8, 2015
Jackson, Shirley, “The Haunting of Hill House,” Internet Version. Viewed at
http://www.puffchrissy.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Jackson-Shirley-The-Haunting-
of-Hill-House.pdf Accessed March 8, 2015
Putman, Dustin, (1999, July 24) “The Haunting – A Review” Viewed at
http://www.thefrightfile.com/reviews/h/99_haunting.htm Accessed March 8, 2015
Self, David “The Haunting 1999” Viewed at Netflix Accessed March 8, 2015

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WePapers. (2020, December, 14) Essay On The Haunting. Retrieved October 16, 2021, from https://www.wepapers.com/samples/essay-on-the-haunting/
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WePapers. Essay On The Haunting. [Internet]. December 2020. [Accessed October 16, 2021]. Available from: https://www.wepapers.com/samples/essay-on-the-haunting/
"Essay On The Haunting." WePapers, Dec 14, 2020. Accessed October 16, 2021. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/essay-on-the-haunting/
WePapers. 2020. "Essay On The Haunting." Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. Retrieved October 16, 2021. (https://www.wepapers.com/samples/essay-on-the-haunting/).
"Essay On The Haunting," Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com, 14-Dec-2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.wepapers.com/samples/essay-on-the-haunting/. [Accessed: 16-Oct-2021].
Essay On The Haunting. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/essay-on-the-haunting/. Published Dec 14, 2020. Accessed October 16, 2021.
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