House On Haunted Hill


Directed by: William Malone
Written by:Rob White, Dick Deebe
Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Famke Janssen, Taye Diggs, Ali Larter, Chris Kattan, Peter Gallagher, Bridgette Wilson
Released: February 10, 2000
Grade: B-

It’s not unusual to see a bad movie, but to see two within the space of six months based on the same novel is something different even for Hollywood.

Rob White’s novel, House On Haunted Hill, was first adapted by Dreamworks last year in The Haunting starring Liam Neeson and Catherine Zeta-Jones. It was nothing more than a major frustration.  Following suit is Buena Vista’s House On Haunted Hill which won the rights to the book’s original title, but not too much else it seems.

In this effort, Geoffrey Rush stars as Steven Price, an amusement ride king who loves giving people the fright of their lives.  In preparation of his wife Evelyn’s (Janssen) birthday party, he invites five guests to an old mental hospital.  The hospital has remained uninhabited since 1931, when a fire killed all but five of its patients, including a sadistic doctor who tortured and conducted horrific medial experiments on its inmates.

So as you can gather, the house is supposedly “haunted” and Steven has set up a few gags for his guests to give them the fright of their lives.  Just to spice things up, he offers $1,000,000 if they can make it through the night alive.  However, when unusual events and mysterious disappearances unfold that were not planned, Steven starts to wonder just who else or what else is still within the walls of Hill House.

It was very tempting to walk out halfway through this mess.  It opens in such a ludicrous manner and features a group of idiotic characters.  It’s just like all those bad horror movies - people always take the stupidest options and they wonder why it gets them into trouble.  The film’s conclusion had its moments and in fact I did enjoy the final scene in particular but when are filmmakers finally going to learn that films like this aren’t very scary.

The original book must have been exactly the opposite to have spawned such interest from Hollywood studios but after two failed attempts, I think that’s the last we’ll be hearing about Hill House for a long time to come.  Perhaps it is the book that is truly “haunted”.