Return to House on Haunted Hill (2007) Movie Review

DTV sequels – we all love ‘em right?  Well yes and no.  Some are great (“Wrong Turn 2”), some are average (“House of the Dead 2”), and some are unbearably shit (pretty much all of them).  Still, I watch them, and it seems so do many other people, as the market is growing and is also evidently profitable.  Just look at the “Boogeyman” franchise of horror movies, or the “American Pie” sequels – surely they wouldn’t keep on getting made if nobody bought them?  So due to this burgeoning market, inevitably a sequel to “House on Haunted Hill” was greenlit.  But was it one of the good batch?

Negative on the offence red leader.

At least for me anyway, as some might be drawn in by how fantastic it looks, which is certainly impressive, so hats off to those behind the cinematography and direction.  It really does feel as though it’s a big-budget theatrical release, visually nestling somewhere between the original (remake) “House on Haunted Hill” and “Th13teen Ghosts”.  Evidently it has a big budget – seemingly more so than the usual DTV release, and it’s up there on the screen in every frame.  The set design is also phenomenal and props must be given to this department – although they’ve probably got loads already, hur hur hur.  The special effects are also top notch, which is fortunate, as the main emphasis of this film is on spectacularly gory death scenes.

Which incidentally is the only good aspect of this movie.  Watch it for the grue, which is fantastically well-done (if hilariously improbable) and not for anything else – even the nudity is ruined by women turning into monsters.  So yes gorehounds, you’ll probably find much delight in this sequel as it out-gores its predecessor by quite the distance by virtue of faces falling off, people being pulled through walls backwards and a plethora of many other interesting dispatches.

But that’s it.  There’s nothing else to recommend “Return to House on Haunted Hill”.  Everything else falls short of mediocre.  It’s a long way from the original.  It’s really not very good.  A bit like unnecessarily short sentences.  In a movie review.  It’s not good.  It also gets.  Really.  Boring.

Why?  Well to start with, story is a little light on the ground, with some hokum about finding a thingie that will do something to someone or something but it’s in a haunted house (on a hill) and there’s a bad guy and he wants it for the wrong reason, which is for money, and there’s a teacher who wants it for the right reason, or something, and there’s ghosts or something and some things happen, or something.  It’s not very original and it’s all been seen before, so it doesn’t really stand out as a worthy reason to watch this film.

On the upside, the acting is acceptable by most standards, and isn’t far from anything you wouldn’t expect in any theatrical teen horror or comedy – namely a bunch of unknowns doing their best with limited material.  However, there is certainly a case of overact-ivitus going around, particularly with regards to Erik Palladino, who plays the main bad guy.  He’s clearly read How to be an Amazing Bad Guy in a Horror Movie, paying particular attention to ‘Chapter 4: Make Sure you Shout Really Loud and Pout your Lips Constantly – it Makes You Look Hard’ with special emphasis on the fourth section: ‘Don’t Forget to Point at People Relentlessly and Without Mercy’.  Overall though, it’s not too bad.

Back to the downsides once more though, namely the head-slappingly infuriating decisions that the characters make .  For example, at one point our lead heroine manages to escape THE IMPOSSIBLE TO ESCAPE house.  Well done you!  Now go and get help.  No?  Why not?  Oh you want to go back in?  Why?  Oh because you’re an idiot?  Ok, bye.  And back in she goes.  It’s the numerous occurrences much like this that only add insult to the film’s injury.

But are these less-than-great aspects to be expected?  In essence I suppose they are – which is why great STV sequels like “Wrong Turn 2” are such a surprise – as those watching these films surely must expect a drop in quality from their theatrical siblings, otherwise they’d be watching them in the cinema too.  So, to be honest it wasn’t really any worse than I expected it (until the fantastic production design threw me off course and raised my expectations), and as a result, I doubt it will disappoint those that like this sort of thing.  Like me.

Ok, it’ll probably disappoint some of you.

Like me.

(or something)

Víctor García (director) / William Massa (screenplay)
CAST: Amanda Righetti …Ariel Wolfe
Cerina Vincent … Michelle
Erik Palladino … Desmond Niles
Tom Riley …Paul
Andrew Lee Potts … Kyle
Corey Johnson … Coby
Jeffrey Combs … Dr. Richard B. Vannacutt