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|March 12, 2001||
The real element of horror and suspense in House On Haunted Hill is how it got made in the first place.
An uninspired remake of William Castle's 1958 film of the same name, the film revolves around a group of strangers trapped overnight in an abandoned, dimly lit mansion, which previously served as an asylum for the insane.
The non-existent thrills start when an amusement park tycoon (Geoffrey Rush) offers $1,000,000 to each of the guests at a birthday bash held in honour of his shrewish wife (Famke Janssen). The deal is simple. All they have to do is live through one night in the haunted house.
The group of strangers who are greeted by a jittery caretaker Pritchett (Chris Kattan) include two blondes (Ali Larter, Final Destination and Bridgette Wilson, Love Stinks), a slow witted MD (Peter Gallagher, While You Were Sleeping), and a black ex-football star (Taye Diggs).
The only actor worth a mention is the usually bankable Oscar-winning Geoffrey Rush. He loses all credibility after this film and hams for all he is worth. His affected mannerisms and obviously fake moustache do nothing for him or his role.
The rest of the characters are so lifeless that one almost revels in their ghastly deaths. All one can say about the cast is that each of them will be better off with new agents.
Director William Malone tries to insert some spirited twists in this as old as the hills concept by introducing some intriguingly treacherous subplots. But none of these do anything to lift the film. He eventually compromises by trading hair-raising chills for cheesy computer-generated effects.
The House On Haunted Hill is a mess of tacky scare tactics that don't even scare. The only thing scary thing about this movie is the price of its ticket.
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