House on Haunted Hill (1999)

Directed by William Malone [Other horror films: Scared to Death (1980), Creature (1985), Feardotcom (2002), Parasomnia (2008)]

I love the original House on Haunted Hill. I find it an incredibly fun movie with a great cast, solid story, nice-looking setting, and some genuine thrills. This re-imagining had potential, but I definitely think it lost some of that during the ending.

There’s a little mystery here, and there’s a few elements used from the original film (such as a secret affair between two characters), but as this film is more overtly supernatural than the original, the mystery doesn’t matter as much, and most of the questions (such as why these particular people were invited) get answered in the expected, not necessarily-satisfactory, ways.

Most of the beginning is strong, and possesses an intentionally hokey charm. It helps a little that a character named Mr. Price (played by Geoffrey Rush) doesn’t look too far off from Vincent Price in the original, which I thought was amusing. I just wish that, when they transferred over to more overt ghosts (especially toward the conclusion), it was done in a better way.

Geoffrey Rush gives a pretty decent performance, and Famke Jannsen, who plays his wife, is solid too. The two of them have the same type of rather toxic relationship that they did in the original, so that’s always good fun. Others who stand out include Ali Larter (Final Destination), who wasn’t the most interesting character, but possessed a young and fresh look, Chris Kattan, who cracked me up throughout the film (“It has no morals. Because it’s a HOUSE!”) and played a bit of the same role that Matthew Lillard did for the Thir13en Ghosts movie, and Peter Gallagher, who’s straight-laced look was quality.

There’s a lack of variety as far as the sets go – in the house, most of the time is spent either in the basement or the ground floor, and it’s not until the end that they venture upstairs, and due to the situation they’re in, they don’t really have time to explore, which was sort of disappointing (especially considering how tall the house looks from the outside).

The biggest problem here is how they handle the ghosts. Not only does that conglomeration of ghost look horrible at the end, they then have another ghost save the day (in a manner of speaking) in a pretty corny scene. It doesn’t really matter at that point, because I’m already somewhat turned off by the route the movie took, but boy, do I wish they had done something a little different, because beforehand, it was a reasonably enjoyable film, but that ending just wasn’t.

I was enjoying this film up to a point, but I think the ending was poor, so ultimately, while I could see myself getting behind this one again at some point, I think it’s below average, though I certainly felt that this movie had real potential.


Author: Jiggy's Horror Corner

Fan of the horror genre, writer of mini-reviews, and lover of slashers.

3 thoughts on “House on Haunted Hill (1999)”

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