In the 1860's, industrialist Hugh Crain financed the construction of Hill House, a beautiful but forbidding mansion where Crain hoped to house a wife and children. However, Crain died an unexplained death at Hill House, and ever since tales have circulated that the mansion is haunted by evil spirits. 130 years later, Dr. David Marrow (Liam Neeson), long fascinated by the Hill House legend, brings three people there for what he tells them will be a study in sleep disorders. Theo (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is outwardly brave, but it soon becomes evident that Hill House's sinister reputation has her on edge. Luke (Owen Wilson) quickly finds himself wondering: if this is really about studying sleep, why bring everyone to a haunted house? And Nell (Lili Taylor) finds herself inexplicably drawn to the mansion, with a fascination that soon bears terrifying fruit as the true story of Hill House is revealed. The Haunting was directed by Jan de Bont; the screenplay was written by David Self and based on Shirley Jackson's novel The Haunting Of Hill House, which was also the basis for Robert Wise's 1963 film The Haunting, widely regarded as one of the screen's finest ghost stories.
by Mark Deming synopsis