Projections - Movie Reviews

The House on Haunted Hill

Once again we are expected to endure a horror film filled with special effects and no story.  For some reason directors or producers have lost the idea of what is riveting and frightening.  Without a plot and characters to care about, we don't fear and the monsters of the mind become bland.

Once that indifference enters our thoughts The House On Haunted Hill quickly fails.  Director, William Malone is quoted as saying about Academy Award winner Geoffrey Rush "I was very pleased that we were able to get him to play the part."  The film does little for Rush's career.

The best parts of the film are at the beginning when billionaire theme-park mogul Steven Price (Rush) tours a reporter through an new spectacular thrill ride at his amusement part.  That one scene holds more suspense and tension than all the action in the abandoned Vannacutt Psychiatric Institute for the Criminally Insane where Price organizes a birthday party for his wife Evelyn (Famke Janssen).  They hate each other and to punish her he shreds her invitation list and the haunted house some how sets up a list of five to attend the event.  When the five arrive they are told they can earn a million dollars by spending the night in the evil house.

From there even less is clear, characters are killed off only to come back to life, while others are permanently disposed of.  It seems the doctor in charge of the asylum in the thirties and all the staff on duty the night the building burned with all the steel doors locked, are related to the people on the invitation list.

The revenge of the house takes up the remainder of the film.  Characters nearly always end up alone walking down dark hall ways which are part of the original building which is supposed have been renovated.  After a half hour of watching these hapless fools get knocked off it's easy to dose.

The irony of the interesting ending is lost way back in the electric shock treatment rooms.

The House on Haunted Hill

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