Haunted houses have been one of the main focuses of horror films for a very long time. It's scary to think that something in a house can be malevolent and against human existence. This could occur in any house, especially if it is old and a death has taken place within it. I know of a house in the area I lived in as a kid that required a priest to come and exorcise it, due to some unknown force that kept turning on vacuums even when they weren't plugged in. I'm not even kidding. The priest solved the problem, so the family decided to stay.
The house in Burnt Offerings seriously needed to be exorcised. I'm still confused why the family agreed to stay in it because it was obvious that something was up with it, what with the weird owners having them only pay $900 to stay there and then asking them to watch over an old 85 year old woman, Mrs. Allardyce, who'd be staying there. Hello! Who'd leave an 85 year old woman in the care of complete strangers? Also, why the hell is her room the one at the very top of the house? We all know old people aren't capable of going up and down staircases once they hit a certain age! It's too hard on their hearts!
Yet, the morons, Marian and Ben Rolf, decide to stay there with their son, Davey and Ben's Aunt Elizabeth for the summer. Marian instantly starts to feel attached to the house, working hard to fix it up on a daily basis. She also takes the task of caring for Mrs. Allardyce very seriously, despite the fact that she's never actually met her and won't allow anyone else to attempt to meet her.
The house begins to negatively affect Ben fairly quickly. Causing him to experience horrific nightmares involving a creepy chauffeur that he witnessed laughing during his mother's funeral when he was a child. Gradually, as the house continues to approve in appearance, the sanity and safety of the family begins to deteriorate. Why is this? What's wrong with this house?
Burnt Offerings is a decent haunted house horror film. It reminds me of a mix of The Shining (1980) and The Changeling (1988), but the other two are more frightening. That's not to say that this film isn't scary, it definitely is at times, particularly when the house starts getting to Aunt Elizabeth. Bette Davis plays Aunt Elizabeth and even though her part isn't huge, she gives her all to it. She had me believing that something terrible was going on! Her voice is kind of scary, too. Honestly, when wasn't Bette Davis awesome?