House on Haunted Hill
It's 1931, and the staff of a psychiatric hospital are conducting experiments
on their patients. One night the patients viciously murder their torturers.
During the attack, a doctor pulls a lever that locks down the building and sets
a fire, killing everyone inside. What happens next? The hospital seeks revenge,
of course. Sixty-eight years later it lures in five strangers with mysterious
party invitations, promising that anyone who survives the night within its
walls will win $1 million.
Sounds freaky, but after the first maniacal half-hour, William Malone's film
gets sucked into the same dull vortex that has claimed so many recent horror
movies. This latest attempt to scare a generation that finds nothing shocking
has two things going for it: Geoffrey Rush as the billionaire ostensibly
throwing the party gives the film its twists (which of the scares are real and
which are his creations?) and SNL's Chris Kattan as the smart-ass
paranoid owner of the abandoned hospital provides much-needed comic relief.
Otherwise, it's same old same old, with flat acting, a bubble-headed script,
and a creepiness that plummets into cheesiness when we finally see the monster.