House on Haunted Hill - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

House on Haunted Hill Reviews

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November 29, 2017
A trashy, yet creepy and entertaining remake.
July 9, 2017
People always want to dump on a film because, these days, most films that come out are remakes in one form or another. I'm guilty of it myself and it really is a shame that there isn't much left of originality anymore. It's a tough business trying to come up with something that somebody else hasn't already thought of. So I suppose remaking or reimagining previous work is ok. I'm a big fan of the theory that films that were not well made the first time should get a shot at being remade before any of the classics are tampered with. However, some films fall down the middle between being classic films and bad films. The original House on Haunted Hill is just such a film. By today's standards, it is a pretty tame affair. Even in it's time, the films that were not-so standards from that bygone era were doing much less conventional things and trying new ideas and ways of storytelling. Filmmakers Jacques Tourneur, Alfred Hitchcock, Mario Bava, and Dario Argento were coming out of this era and into a new breed of filmmaking that much more influential in most respects. But the question is always asked "Does a film's quality (it's special effects, acting, editing, lighting, etc) make it qualify as a bad film?" My answer is no. It all relies on the opinion of the viewer. Opinions are not universal and everyone can have their own. That's what the wonderful thing is about seeing films is.

So William Castle's original House on Haunted Hill may not be, in my opinion, a genre classic, nor is it a horrible film. It falls somewhere in between. It scared me as a child and delights me now as an adult. Just about everything about it is dated and difficult to relate to on an esoteric level I suppose, but it's too damned charming and entertaining to dismiss entirely. I hold it in high regard as one of my favorite horror films, even if it isn't a true classic by definition, or if its creator was much more concerned with atmosphere. Not just in his films but with the audiences that saw it. Anyone familiar with William Castle or has seen the film Matinee will know what lengths the man went to to entertain his audience. Anyways, with all this in mind (I didn't mean to write a book, I promise), I give you my take on the remake of House on Haunted Hill.

To update a cult favorite, I believe firmly you have to stick with the original formula to some degree. A few strangers are invited to spend the night in a haunted house, and if they survive the night, they each receive one million dollars (only ten thousand dollars in the original). Pretty cooky concept, wouldn't you say? But the idea reaches out to the audience on a very basic level. If you were handed such a proposal, would you do it? Of course you would. You would be a fool not to because that is a lot of money and if all you have to do is spend the night in a creepy old house...well, I know I'd do it. So the movie works for an audience on that level. Storywise, little has changed from the original until the third act, which I won't spoil.

When it comes to character, you have to spread the butter kinda thick. Give the audiences people they can relate to, people they feel uneasy about and people that make them laugh. This film has all of that. There's been some criticism that everyone in the film is thinly drawn because not a lot of information is given about them, only the basics, ala most horror films. It's my belief that their performances carry themselves and you don't need heavy exposition or background information. It's all there in who they are as characters without deep explanation, and that's pretty important.

As far as atmosphere, this film oozes it. You're given a brief but disturbing look at what has taken place in this house before you spend the night in it and it keeps you looking around the corners. The set design is absolutely superb. Dark and creepy, right down to the fireplace in the makeshift parlor. The lighting is a little too bright at times (my feeling is shadow is creepier than actually seeing everything) but that doesn't detract much from the atmosphere. I always felt that the basement of the house should have been underlit, like in the original. Other than that, it all works well.

When it comes to direction and editing, I believe the latter is just a bit lacking. I think William Malone gives wonderful strong direction to his actors and they all give solid performances, particularly Geoffrey Rush and Chris Kattan, but I believe his editing instincts may need a bit of polish. I've seen some of the footage that was not in the final cut and I believe some of it belongs in the final edit. Perhaps an extended version of the movie will appear someday and some of this footage can see daylight.

I shouldn't comment on this because I'm talking about the film, but I always loved the original teaser trailer for this movie. I still think it's one of the best horror trailers I've ever seen. It sets up the atmosphere and tone of film perfectly.

I know I should talk about a lot of the plot specifics, but I'd feel like I'd spoil it for those who haven't seen it because even though it was a major release, it's still underappreciated 10 years later. So if you're in the mood for a very creepy horror film with some real atmosphere, you owe it to yourself to see this one. It may not be a "classic" either, but it's damned enjoyable and one of the best horror films in recent years, not to mention one of the finest remakes out there.
March 17, 2017
I'm conflicted on this one. On one hand, it has abysmal production design, laughable special effects, and the scares are few and far between. On the other hand, I was thoroughly entertained from beginning to end.
January 15, 2017
I liked this. I actually thought it was funny and quite entertaining.
January 10, 2017
2/5. It's got some moments and good performances, but it's a bit dull.
November 25, 2016
This movie was a mess. The plot was interesting but riddled with horrible dialogue and acting and the movie wasn't scary or suspenseful. It had a great cast of actors but they didn't have much to work with.
September 30, 2016
A fun 90s horror flick, but a lot of movie is incredibly dated at this point.
August 30, 2016
What a great remake! It has stuff you don't see coming and takes you by suprise!
½ August 11, 2016
Was probably the dullest horror film I had ever seen involving a haunted house -- with the most unappealing characters. Although, some of the visual cues were interesting.
jamrcla
Super Reviewer
July 30, 2016
Boring, Predictable, Not scary, Only good thing was the story, It could of been interesting if done right but it wasn't.
July 16, 2016
While enjoyable and a great premise, this movie is very noisy, and ruined with a cartoon ending.
July 15, 2016
Cheesy as hell,boring,and just not scary remake of the timeless classic.
½ May 21, 2016
I've seen a lot of bad films in my life, but this one is up there. It's not a "so bad it's good" fun movie. It's an abomination. It's nonsensical plot angered me. It was one of the most confusing and asinine plots I've ever watched. The poor acting was unwatchable and the editing was atrocious. The film jumps from scene to scene in a seemingly random order. The special effects were bad for 1999. They would've been bad for 1899. Avoid this film at all costs. It's not fun bad, it's painful bad.
April 25, 2016
Why the bad ratings?..A great movie!
½ November 7, 2015
ok grafics were bad tho
November 1, 2015
No, it's not really groundbreaking, but as a child this movie was creepy to me and I have fond memories of it. The production design and sets are stellar and you have to love Geofferey Rush as Vincent Price and Famke Jannsen as his treacherous wife. This movie's basic creep vibe has been very formative for me. So while it's not likely an instant classic to be remembered for centuries to come...it's far from all bad.
½ June 19, 2015
Devoid of any thought, feeling, or scares. This remake is lackluster to say the least, with horrid acting, and just a remake in name only.
May 30, 2015
Ok Eval en looked nice
½ May 24, 2015
Slightly better than the remade The Haunting but still very bad.
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