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YMMV / The Haunting (1963)

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  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • The biggest one (as noted under Paranoia Fuel) is that the house could be haunted, or the characters could be just getting scared by loud noises.
    • Eleanor's line "Nature's Mistakes" could refer to a bigoted view of homosexuals...or it could refer to people with extrasensory perception.
    • The "are you married?" exchange could mean that Theo is in a romantic relationship with a woman...or it could mean she's living with a man out of wedlock. Theo specifically refers to her partner as "we." A rather careful gender ambiguity. Especially considering the taboo on homosexuality at the time.
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    • Theo's angry reaction to Luke's flirtation could mean that she's not attracted to men...or it could mean that she's offended by his familiar behavior and finds him disrespectful.
    • Theo's annoyance/anger at Markway's compliment about Nell's perception could mean that she's feeling jealous about a good looking man paying attention to the girl she likes... or she could feel that he's slighting Theo's gift...OR she's reacting badly to Markway's attentions to Nell because she knows he's married; she's hoping her chilliness toward Markway will rub off on Nell. Then perhaps Nell won't get attached, and get hurt.
    • As seen in Les Yay below, one interpretation of Nell's behavior towards Theo going along with the "Theo is a lesbian" theory, in the way that Nell alternates between coldness and warmth to Theo, is that Nell herself is also a lesbian and her internalized homophobia is another cause of her mental instability. When she calls Theo "one of nature's mistakes", she's both fighting off her own attraction and projecting her own bigotry onto Theo.
  • Fair for Its Day:
    • In a time when mental illness was used as a Freudian Excuse for villains or bad behavior, Eleanor is portrayed as someone trying to take control of her life - and is never shown in a bad light despite the Sanity Slippage she suffers in Hill House.
    • Theo was also portrayed as comforting and non-predatory, despite the film having to resort to Hide Your Lesbians.
  • Les Yay: It is more or less universally accepted that Theo had a crush of some sort with Nell. A lot of the things she says to Nell come as very flirty, and a lot of her actions can only be explained as her being jealous of Nell and Dr. Markway becoming closer. Not to mention, her making fun of Nell also comes as some manner of teasing. Word of God later confirmed it.
  • Paranoia Fuel: About halfway through the film you begin to wonder - is there really a spiritual force attacking the house and its inhabitants... or is it all just happening in their minds?
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • Mrs. Markway is Moneypenny.
    • And Luke is Dr. Jacoby.
  • Signature Scene: The faces in the wall, and the "breathing" door.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • The concept of a paid companion has fallen out of favor in modern times - and it seems odd that an unqualified girl from the village would be expected to be responsible for the elderly Abigail Crain. Nowadays the old woman would be more likely to hire a professional carer. With Eleanor it's more justified, as she was taking care of her mother.
    • Nell's line to Theo about "nature's mistakes" would be impossible to keep in today's homophobia-aware society and have her remain sympathetic. Not to mention that it's shown as The Dog Bites Back - Nell snapping after Theo has teased one too many times.


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