The House on Haunted Hill (1999)

Geoffrey RushStarring Geoffrey Rush, Famke Janssen, Taye Diggs, Ali Larter, Peter Gallagher, Chris Kattan, Bridgette Wilson.
Written by Dick Beebe, based on The House on Haunted Hill (1958), written by Robb White.
Directed by William Malone.

Grade: F

Review by Carlo Cavagna.

In The House on Haunted Hill, Stephen Price (Geoffrey Rush) offers one million dollars to each person who can make it through the night at a haunted mansion. Warner Brothers should have offered a million dollars to anyone who can make it through the movie without walking out. Better yet, they should have offered the money to anybody who can guess ahead of time who will live and who will die. I would have earned the money by the end of the first half hour. Ali Larter and Taye Diggs

The House on Haunted Hill is bad. Bad, bad, bad! Bad, bad house! Bad, bad actors! Bad, bad director! You have been bad, and you must be punished. I sentence you to sit through your own movie. The House on Haunted Hill isn't even campy fun. It's just an hour and a half spent in an uncomfortable chair, feeling bloated from too much popcorn and soda.

As for the story, if you saw The Haunting last summer, you pretty much know it already. In both movies, somebody has a bad, bad idea: why not lure a bunch of unsuspecting people to a big old haunted house? In The Haunting, Liam Neeson does it to conduct a psychological experiment. In The House on Haunted Hill, Geoffrey Rush and Famke Jannsen do it to throw a kick-ass party. But, don't you know, ghosts don't really exist, so the hosts play tricks on their guests in order to scare them. Famke JanssenHa, ha, the joke's on them when the real ghosts start messing with everybody! Hey, check out Haunted Hill's tagline: "Evil loves to party!" What a hoot! Or not.

The scariest thing about The House on Haunted Hill is that Academy Award winner® Geoffrey Rush is in it. Does he need money that badly? Somebody please pass a collection plate so that Rush never has to do anything like this (or Mystery Men) again! He does a pretty good impression of Vincent Price, who starred in the original 1958 movie, but it's still an embarrassing performance. If Rush has any sense, he's sitting in his kitchen right now with a stack of his press materials and a bottle of correction fluid. And if Warner Brothers Chairman Barry Meyer has any sense, he has removed director William Malone and screenwriter Dick Beebe's cards from his Rolodex, and burned them.

Review © November 1999 by AboutFilm.Com and the author.
Images © 1999 Warner Bros.

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