Sunday, November 29, 2009

House on Haunted Hill

House on Haunted Hill; Horror, USA, 1999; D: William Malone, S: Geoffrey Rush, Ali Larter, Taye Diggs, Famke Janssen, Peter Gallagher, Jeffrey Combs

In an asylum, the patients started a mutiny, killed the sadistic doctor who performed experiments on them and set the building on fire. Some 60 years later, the eccentric tycoon Stephen Price constructed a mansion on the ruins of the asylum, for his wife Evelyn. Five people were invited to come to the mansion and spend the night: Sara, Eddie, Melissa, Donald and Pritchett. When they enter, metal bars prevent them to exit until tomorrow. Strange things start happening: Melissa disappears while Evelyn is found dead. But Evelyn just pretended and kills Donald. The ghosts capture everyone in the end, except Sara and Eddie who manage to escape.

Horror remake of an '59 original with the same title, "House on Hunted Hill" is originally directed, but in the end still a cliched sprout of its genre which is dramaturgically on thin ice that breaks more and more towards the ice. The story doesn't lack suspenseful scenes full of adrenaline, like in the exposition where the mad doctor is performing an operation on a patient who is still awake, but then gets stopped and killed by other patients, yet to complain a horror film that it's too suspenseful would be as if one would complain that a comedy is too funny. Still, "House" is just a sufficient achievement and nothing more whose greatest flaw are too many one-dimensional characters and cheap style. The best scenes are the ones in fast-forward loop, like the one of the arrival of a demon or a monitor on the camera where the protagonists are watching the disappearance of her colleague, yet humor and intelligence would have given the story more color.


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