House on Haunted Hill
Running Time: 93 minutes
Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Famke Janssen, Taye Diggs, Peter Gallagher, Chris Kattan, Ali Larter, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras.
Directed By: William Malone
Rating: 0.5 out of 10
A group of strangers must survive a night at a haunted house to win a million dollars.
Normally I don’t have a hard time writing reviews but this movie upset me so much that I have been sitting here for a while unable to start. Sometimes movies are so bad they just aren’t worth talking about (If only it were that easy.) This movie is easily on my top 100 films to avoid list and that is the scariest thing about this film. House on Haunted Hill is the story of an eccentric millionaire offering a group of strangers one million dollars each. The catch: they must survive the night locked in a house with a murderous past.
Okay I am taking a big breath and here we go. This film is a remake from a movie of the same name from the 1950’s and trust me it should have stayed in that decade. The film starts and we are treated to a tired flashback story of the house. A former mental institution where the patients are abused by a twisted and deranged doctor is blah and uninspired. Fast forward to present day and the film does not get any better. The house is this absurd looking building sitting on a precarious cliff. The only fear that it inspires is will it fall into the water because of erosion. The inside of the house isn’t any better. It looks like a recently built movie set not a long abandoned mental hospital. The lights flicker for the whole movie just spoiling scene after scene. There are random machines lying around that include a hyperbaric chamber and an electrolysis box. There are also weird demonic sculptures lining the hallways. Everything just seems set up and lacks realism. We are introduced to the motley group of strangers as they prepare to spend the night for the promised cash. The eccentric millionaire has asked them there so he can play a joke on them at the expense of his ex-wife. The house accidentally gets put in lockdown mode and someone or something starts killing off the group one by one. As the characters split up and search the house for escape routes, the film gives you answers to questions no one has asked and you will have to try your hardest not to turn this film off.
The acting was the worst thing about the film both in performance and in the characters themselves. The eccentric millionaire Stephen Price is played by a great actor in Geoffrey Rush. I was shocked by how bad he is in this film. What he gives us is a tired Vincent Price impersonation with pencil mustache and over emotional delivery. I am not going to go through the rest of the cast as they all sucked for various reasons. Some people are there to double cross, others there for the money, some are there unintentionally, others are there for murder, some people are there for fun, others are there for a television deal, some are there accidentally, and others are there for pranks. There are only 8 people in the house so it is anyone’s guess as to why they needed so many different motivations on being there. I would be wrong not to point out that the owner of the house is Watson Pritchett played by the truly unfunny Chris Kattan. This is one of the worst performances I have ever witnessed. He gets stuck in the house and he just ruins ever scene he is in with his loud and truly bizarre delivery. He seems to know that the house will kill everyone in it and tells them that at frequent intervals. Why he would ever step into the house in the first place is ridiculous in on itself. If you have a film that needs drama Kattan can ruin it in a heartbeat
As the film rolls along I said to myself and many times over “good lord this is a piece of shit”. I could go on all day about this movie and truly I hope you don’t watch this film. It is like the writers got a bingo calling machine and loaded it with plotlines written on the bingo balls inside. They spun the machine and picked balls at random and that is how this movie plays out. The characters are all ridiculous, there are evil ghosts, the building is alive, people hallucinate, the characters conspire against each other, there is malevolent mist, there are demons, there are good ghosts, everything is thrown in and yet nothing is scary. The end is somehow worse then everything else as the survivors run around the house trying to escape form an evil that looks like it was drawn with crayons. PLEASE DO NOT WATCH THIS. I am going to Frisbee throw my DVD copy out my window as soon as I am done here.
Director William Malone is known for low grade horror and so I shouldn’t have been surprised that this was bad. I was surprised at how bad it was though. I know there are people who like this type of film I just don’t understand why. The director takes a god awful script (Dick Beebe) and fails on every level. I was never scared and truth be told I laughed at most things that were supposed to be frightening. There are just too many things and story lines going on and this film has no direction whatsoever. The characters are atrocious and their personalities are worse.
I cannot recommend this film and I know horror tends to be critic proof but please listen to me for once.
T Factor + if you like low budget horror then this could score higher on the rating scale.
T Factor – Pick anything and this could score lower on the rating scale.
If you liked this film reel recommendations: Thirteen Ghosts, The Haunting.