Number 07 -- The Haunting
(Seriously, check out MaroBot's DeviantArt! He's also a brilliant CGI artist!)
Director: Jan de Bont
Lili Taylor, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Liam Neeson
Release Date: July 23, 1999
Posting Date: October 11, 2011
There are many elements that make for a great review. These elements are vast and complex, reliant just as much on the movie as on the reviewer.
It's one thing just to make a funny video, but one must really work for a great review. A truly optimal discussion or analysis of work, deconstruction the whole thing piece by piece and making something great out of each element. The critic's sense of humor plays substantially into it, but also the movie itself must invite enough ridicule from each and every cell.
This is something I didn't truly realize until I had already written five entries for this very list, at which point Doug had posted his own Top 11 list of Nostalgia Critic episodes. I was going to put The Room on this list, originally at a higher position and then here before I decided to swap it out at the last minute. Now, this is still my list and I'm not letting Doug's opinion on his own works affect my judgement. After all, his choices were made from a different perspective, that of the filmmaker as opposed to that of the audience.
I tried to write up on The Room, and I did think that was a very funny review. And it even made Doug's "Honorable Mention" list in that afore-mentioned countdown. But I realized that it wasn't spectacular enough to credit as a "Top 11" choice and apparently only made the first version of this list because of how popular it was and of the notoriety of the movie.
I still love that review, though.
At the same time, there was just something about his discussion of The Haunting in hindsight that made me think. This is one review that Doug is truly passionate about. This is the kind of movie that really strikes a powerful chord with him. And it's all because of his love for the original from the 1960s. There is so much sincerity to his voice over the opening where he goes over that version, and even when he's doing the comparisons right before joking and riffing in his analysis of the remake.
The whole experience was personal for him, and that really helped make it special. It was truly fascinating to see the Critic vent about how much of a downgrade this remake, made by the same director as the special effects overdosed Twister, was from a horror movie that meant so much to him. It really felt like he was going full circle with his impressions of the remake's creative teams. To start off, we have a rant going along the lines of "What does that Robert Wise schmuck know" before listing truly accomplished films like The Sound of Music and West Side Story. And then cue the roaring tornado with the line, "I'm the master of f--king subtlety!" And it concludes with a summary of the climax (which I have now learned Doug walked out before), and some of the most epic ranting I've ever seen from the Critic.
And the rest of the review is also truly funny, with the perfect riffs punctuated to weak attempts at scares. Instead, the plot seems to support this good point made of how the movie feels less like a horror movie and more like some kids' Halloween parable, ala Hocus Pocus. But let's not forget the cast. First and foremost, the Critic's intense lust for Catherine Zeta-Jones complimenting the blatant fanservice from her character punctuating her bisexuality. This does give us a funny running gag about the Critic's smarmy tendencies. In addition, there's an insightful description about the media's rocky development in accepting homosexuality, representing a significant lack of subtlety on the creators' part. Even funnier was the awkward early impressions of Owen Wilson, before he was established as a comedy superstar. Not helping matters was his character being dim enough to constantly point out the obvious. "I'm Owen Wilson."