Lili Taylor, Catherine Zeta Jones, and Owen Wilson star as patients trying to overcome insomnia with the help of their trusting doctor played blandly by Liam Neeson. What they don’t know is that the doctor’s real objective is to explore the dynamics of fear.
The cinematography, art direction and mystique of DeBont’s haunted house is mesmerizing as the gothic atmosphere and leering heads all over the set make the movie a beauty to watch. Pushing that aside we are captivated by the mystical flowing curtains that turn into faces and the carved creatures springing to life.
But what DeBont forgot was who the heck are these people we are supposed to be terrified with. Lili Taylor is the juiciest morsel in the bunch and her performance is wonderful if you can get caught up in it. As for the rest of the cast they are, should we say, daft to the point of boring.
With these characters being so shallow and hollow, the fear never manifests itself and all we are left with is a summer special effects spectacle.
(3 out of 5)
So Says the Soothsayer.