Haunted (1995 film)
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|Directed by||Lewis Gilbert|
|Produced by||Lewis Gilbert
|Written by||Lewis Gilbert
|Music by||Debbie Wiseman|
|Editing by||John Jympson|
|Distributed by||October Films|
|Running time||108 min.|
Haunted is a 1995 British film, by veteran director Lewis Gilbert and starring Aidan Quinn, Kate Beckinsale, Anthony Andrews and John Gielgud. It is based on a novel of the same name by James Herbert. The film was produced by Andrews and Gilbert.
David Ash (Aidan Quinn), an American professor, has entered into the field of parapsychology and has spent a majority of his life disproving the existence of ghosts. He was motivated by the untimely death of his twin sister, Juliet, for which he blames himself. In 1928, he receives an invitation from the Mariell family to investigate the alleged hauntings at their home, Edbrook House. At the train station, he is met and is immediately smitten by the beautiful Christina Mariell (Kate Beckinsale), who informs him that she and her brothers actually hired him to try to calm the fears of their ageing nanny. Christina believes that due to her declining mental health since their mother's death, Nanny Tess (Anna Massey) has convinced herself that Mrs. Mariell's ghost returns every evening to haunt Edbrook House.
As David begins his investigations, he becomes aware of a presence in the house which goes against everything he believes. This strengthens his determination to expose the paranormal activities as nothing more than a hoax perpetrated by younger brother Simon (Alex Lowe). His initial ideas regarding the afterlife are shaken after increasingly vivid visions of his dead sister Juliet, freely prowling the halls or grounds of Edbrook. Unable to sleep from the strange nightly disturbance, David begins to hallucinate, causing him to start questioning the state of his own sanity and to seek the aid of Dr. Doyle (John Gielgud), the local psychiatrist.
Further complicating the investigation is Christina's continuous flirtation with David, a distraction he gladly welcomes. However, older brother Robert (Anthony Andrews) is adamantly against their friendship, and is revealed as having an incestuous relationship with Christina. When David decides to finally leave Edbrook, he asks Christina to come away with him. Although she refuses, they engage in a passionate kiss and end up in bed together. In the morning when David wakes, the wind is gusting through the house, which is now cloaked in black drapes and littered with fallen leaves. He searches for Christina but instead sees his twin sister's ghost, who leads David to a cemetery. Juliet calls his attention to a specific tombstone which states that Robert, Christina and Simon Mariell all died in a fire at Edbrook in 1923.
A very confused David seeks out Dr. Doyle only to be told by his sister's ghost that he had died many years ago. He leaves with Christina, who crashes her car into a tree, causing it to explode. David escapes, returns to the house, and confronts Nanny Tess. She confirms that the Mariell siblings are indeed dead and that their ghosts will do anything to keep Nanny Tess and David from leaving. Nanny Tess also reveals that the siblings' mother, Mrs. Mariell, drowned herself after discovering drunken Simon and Robert in their parent's bed with Christina. The siblings appear and force Nanny Tess to confess to their murder (she had locked the siblings in a bedroom and then set fire to the house).
Robert reveals that, with David as the new victim of their torments, they no longer need Nanny Tess. They kill Nanny Tess, and Christina asks David to die for them. He tries to escape, but is blocked by the three siblings and Dr. Doyle. They set the mansion ablaze, but he escapes to the upstairs bedroom. While Robert, Simon and Christina cackle mockingly within the flames at his imminent death, Juliet suddenly appears and walks through the flames, takes David by the hand and rescues him from the inferno. As they walk away from the mansion's ruins, Juliet absolves him of his guilt over her death and departs to the afterlife.
After the harrowing experience, David returns home and is greeted by his assistant, Kate, as he steps off the train. A few steps behind the unsuspecting couple, Christina steps out of the shadows and follows them through the fog as they leave the platform.
- Aidan Quinn – Professor David Ash
- Kate Beckinsale – Christina Mariell
- Anthony Andrews – Robert Mariell
- John Gielgud – Dr. Doyle
- Anna Massey – Nanny Tess Webb
- Alex Lowe – Simon Mariell
- Victoria Shalet – Juliet Ash
- Peter England – Young David Ash
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The film received mixed reviews from critics receiving an 80% fresh rating of five critics on Rotten Tomatoes and 6.2 out of 10 on IMDB. The films main praise is towards the performances of Quinn and Beckinsale (in the roles of David Ash and Christina Mariell respectively). Its back-to-basics setting of a period haunted house where "things go bump in the night" was subjected to some of the films main failing points. As it hearkened back to the traditional haunted house films such as The Haunting or House on Haunted Hill, it lacked any style or suspense as the films preceding it had and was also criticised for being too basic on elements such as rattling door knobs and wispy, weeping shadows.