Rush Names His Price
"House on Haunted Hill" is a remake of the 1958 movie and although I am not usually a fan of remakes I did enjoy this one purely because it took a good storyline and made it current. Some may say that for horror this newer version of "House on Haunted Hill" lacks the scares of the original but these are made up for in other departments making it an average but enjoyable horror movie.
Eccentric millionaire, Stephen Price (Geoffrey Rush) is always in search for the ultimate scare, as demonstrated by his terrifying rides at his theme park. As part of his search for terror, he holds a birthday party for his wife at a former Psychiatric Institute for the Criminally Insane, where the patients slaughtered the doctors and nurses before setting fire to the place. But Price gives a party with a twist, there are only 5 guests all of which are strangers, and he sets them a challenge that anyone who can last a night in the haunted house and come out alive will get a million dollars.
As with many other modern horror movies such as "Scream", "House on Haunted Hill" includes a lot of dark humour to lighten up the mood of the movie and some may say too cover up for its failings when it comes to a tight storyline. But unlike some horror movies it does deliver a reasonably fluent storyline with a few twists and enough scares to make you jump. What makes it appear better than others is that it uses various traditional methods to make you jump, such as surprises instead of predominantly in your face gore.
But it is not a perfect movie when it comes to the storyline, far from it. The biggest disappointment is that instead of trying to be different succumbs to the obvious and delivers a predictable Hollywood ending.
The main character in "House on Haunted Hill" is Stephen H. Price, played by Geoffrey Rush (Pirates of the Caribbean). His character has obviously been based on the character played by Vincent Price in the original and Rush has done a worthy job of picking up on the look and traits of Vincent Price but camped it up a bit to make it unique. There are some equally good performances from the supporting cast which includes Peter Gallagher (Stealing Beauty) and Taye Diggs (Kevin Hill - TV series), but special mention should go to Ali Larter (Final Destination) as Sara Wolfe, the heroine of the film who does make a good stab of making an interesting character. Honestly, the performances are not great but more than adequate for a typical modern horror movie.
"House on Haunted Hill" is directed by William Malone (Tales from the Crypt - TV series) and has done a reasonable job of making a modern horror flick with classic horror references. He has created a balance of horror, suspense, gore and dark humour to make a well rounded movie. His use of timing and surprise to scare you is absolutely spot on and the use of CGI, although not the best, still adds to the movie. The scenes at Price's theme park use the CGI brilliantly and are quite funny.
What this all boils down to is that "House on Haunted Hill is a reasonable modern horror movie which makes you jump when needed and keeps you engrossed with a reasonable story. There are some good performances and also some reasonable special effects. Compared to more recent horrors which revel in very visual gore, it does feel a little tame but for me is still good because it will make you jump when you least expect it.