The star of this film was the soundtrack for me. Its sounds really carried some kind of force with it, the way some seemed very aural and others quite flat. Flat on the other hand were also the actors' performances. It's a nice story-line but the actors could not convey its tension fully.
A well-made hanuted-house thriller filled with plenty of chills & mystery. George C. Scott gave quite a fine performance, still rare to see him acted in some horror. I was also surprised to see parts of this film were shot in Seattle, which must be monumental there.
Its anti-aristocratic message--how power wielded for authoritarian and lineage-preserving purposes effects the life of future generations--properly congeals with Scott 's portrayal of redemptive grief after loss. A debatable fault is that the scares and mystery are archetypal, yet these genre trappings are generic only because this film set the cliches. Yet, unlike its kin, Medak uses them in an artistic manner.
I liked all the supernatural stuff and the seance scenes I thought were good. The ending was also quite good, and the movie had an interesting performance by George C. Scott. But as far as the mystery/investigating stuff goes, I was quite bored and I found them quite pedestrian.
**1/2. 1st level : the ghost of a murdered child wants its revenge. 2nd level : the eternal battle between the genuine artist (the director) and the wealthy powers (the producer). 3rd level : a study about plumbing in the early XXth century mansions. 4th level : George C. Scott pays his taxes. 5th level : Martin Scorsese is a very squeamish guy at heart.
Atmosphere is the essence of horror, and Peter Medak's film establishes a creepy, intimate feel throughout. Medak's use of space and editing establish a feel that is both claustrophobic and spacious (when the mood calls for one or the other). George C. Scott gives one of the better horror movie performances as the central figure in a film that utilizes its setting to a psychological effect better than most.