Beginning with “archival” footage designed to reinforce the idea that what the audience is witnessing is based on historical fact, The Haunting is a combination of stimulating cinematography paired with what must be the worst dubbing of the 21st century. There is no doubt that this film, released in Spain with the title No-Do: The Beckoning, would be better viewed in the original Spanish with English subtitles.
A woman, newly awakened from a 60-year lethargic encephalitis coma, is released from an asylum that is being closed. Creepy flashbacks on grainy film inform us that something strange and supernatural happened some time in the past. The audience is then brought to a modern maternity hospital and the beginning of the story of a doctor, her husband, daughter, and new baby moving into a beautiful country home in Spain that had once been the summer home of a recently deceased bishop. The basement and loft areas of this palatial residence are off limits due to “restoration.”
A variety of flashback techniques are employed, which serve to confuse the viewer. With fuzzy memories, newsreel footage, and flashbacks that look no different than the rest of the story, it’s not easy to determine what is happening, and what has happened in The Haunting. Parallel story lines add to the confusion. Although the audience is certain that the doctor and her family’s situation will somehow tie in with two priests’ discussion of a whore who performed miracles and the woman released from the asylum, and that the house will play a key role in the drama, there is so much happening with no explanation that it seems disjointed and incohesive.