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Return To House On Haunted Hill (DVD)
Member Name: sunmeilan
Return To House On Haunted Hill (DVD)
Advantages: Andrew Lee Potts
Disadvantages: Everyone and everything else
Having escaped from the house on Haunted Hill some years before, Sara is found dead, having apparently committed suicide. Her sister Ariel, who has long thought Sara was mentally ill, is devastated, and returns home with friend Paul. She is approached by Professor Richard, who wants to get hold of Sara's diary, hoping that as a result, he will be able to trace a statue linked to the house. But then Ariel and Paul are kidnapped by a group of treasure hunters who also want to trace the statue, and together they go back to the house on Haunted Hill, only to meet the Professor and his colleagues there. Before they know what is happening, the house locks down and ghosts of former mental patients begin to wreck havoc with the new inmates. Will any of them manage to escape alive? And will the statue be found?
In case anyone makes the same mistake that I made, it is important to note that this 2007 film is the sequel to the 1999 House on Haunted Hill which is loosely based on the 1959 classic of the same name (in other words, it's an attempt to make money out of the original). Not realising this, I presumed that this film would be a sequel to the 1959 version, which I loved, and didn't realise that it would have made more sense to watch the 1999 re-make first. However, it isn't all that hard to follow the story as it is - the plot isn't exactly the most complicated I have ever come across. Although if you take my advice, you will stick to the original and will stay clear of House on Haunted Hill 1999 and its sequel.
As often happens with horror films, characterisation is really not the strongpoint of the film (not that it really has any strongpoints). Amanda Righetti plays Ariel and just about manages to keep her head above water. She isn't a particularly likeable character, especially when you consider that she ignored her sister Sara when she was in her hour of need, and I found it hard to care much what happened to her. Her friend Paul, played by Tom Riley, was clearly there to add a love interest, but is a largely pointless role. Steven Pacey as the Professor is terrible - the man can't act for toffee - and the bad guy of the film, played by Erik Palladino, wasn't much better.
The only saving grace, of both the actors and the film in general, was the appearance of Andrew Lee Potts, who played one of Professor Richard's team. He's a British actor who I recognised from Primeval and he also had a role as a mailman in 1408. I wouldn't go as far as to say he gave a great performance - it was convincing enough though - but there is something about him as an actor that I like (and it's not his looks - way too short and young for me!). He brings a little bit of humour to the proceedings, reminding me of Justin Long, and was the only character for whom I had any feelings. However, I can imagine that he won't appeal to everyone; he's rather a love or hate sort of actor.
The plot is absolutely rubbish; in fact, I cannot remember the last time I watched such a terrible story, and I watch a great deal of absolute nonsense. I hated the whole statue angle, which seemed to be an attempt to mix a bit of sci fi in with the horror, and was completely unnecessary. The ghosts in the house are those of mental patients who were tortured to death in the house, which was previously a mental institution, and I think the script writer should have concentrated on that rather than weave the statue thread in along with it. As it is, neither storyline is worth concentrating on and I found myself bored from start to finish.
The special effects are reasonable. There is a fair amount of gore, including watching a man having his brains scooped out and another having his intestines ripped out, which is generally convincing. Another man explodes when his arms and legs are pulled in opposite directions - this isn't so convincing, especially when all that is left appears to be blood and the odd chunk of matter. The ghosts are vaguely frightening, with wide staring eyes, but there is nothing particularly impressive about them. There is also a lot of nudity; in an apparent attempt to sex up the film, there is a girly three-some at one point, although they don't do much but rub their breasts against each other. This is most definitely not a film for the children, hence the rating of 18.
The cinematography is strange to say the least. I hated the colour scheme, which is dull - greens and browns with the occasional splash of red blood. I'm sure it was supposed to represent the fact that the house is derelict, apart from the ghosts, but it didn't draw me into the film at all, and just seemed to exacerbate the general tone of dullness. I was left with an overwhelming feeling of relief that the whole thing had ended.
There are a number of special features. Firstly, a set of 'confessionals', which is basically an opportunity for each of the characters to speak about how they ended up in the haunted house. It's done in character, which is quite a novel way of doing things - had I cared at all about the characters and had wanted a bit more character development, it would have been very interesting. As it is, the only one I enjoyed was the one with Andrew Lee Potts. There's a featurette about the statue, with Professor Richard in character - like the film, it's rather dull. Then (God help us all) there's a set of additional scenes - so not necessary. Finally, there's a music video by a band called Mushroomhead - the accompanying video seems to be an excuse to show the nastiest parts from the film again.
In case you haven't got the point yet, I thought this film was a pile of pants. I have an extremely high tolerance for rubbish horror, often finding it amusing even if it's not supposed to be, but in this case, I just couldn't summon up the energy. If you find the title intriguing, stick to the original 1959 film which, although dated, is very entertaining and stars the fabulous Vincent Price. This is just dull dull dull, and if it hadn't been for Andrew Lee Potts, I would probably have switched off long before the end. Absolutely not recommended.
The DVD is available from play.com for £8.99 - personally, I think they should pay us to watch it.
Running time: 81 minutes
Summary: Wooden acting, silly plot...I wouldn't bother