(Review originally written at 13 July 2009)

For the fans this is a nice homage to the movies from the good old days of horror, when actors such as Vincent Price, Donald Pleasance and Peter Cushing were at an all time height with the simplistic but atmospheric little genre pieces they appeared in. This movie is a remake of the 1959 movie "House on Haunted Hill", with Vincent Price in the main lead. It combines old fashioned horror with the more modern horror style. This is nice for the fans of the genre but nevertheless the movie never ever really works out as an horror.

Modern horror movies featuring lots of special effects are often being bashed but I must say that for this particular movie it does work fine. It's not due to it's special effects that the movie and its horror doesn't work out.

Just blame the movie itself for that. It doesn't ever provide itself with some good scare and horror moments, which is also mostly due to the fact that it is often having too much fun with paying tribute to the more older horror movies. It makes the movie often more a fun and entertaining one, rather than a exciting or scary one. It makes the movie watchable but at the same time also yet quite ineffective.

The writing just isn't anything too good. The script doesn't provide the movie with any good memorable characters you can also care about and it doesn't offer the movie any excitement. The story does try to put you on the wrong track at times but not all of the twists come as entirely unexpected and some of them also just aren't for the good of the movie.

Seems Geoffrey Rush also still had fun playing in this movie though. He often goes over-the-top, in a positive way, since it gives the movie a certain degree of entertainment, which helps to make this movie still a very well watchable one. Other actors such as Famke Janssen and Ali Larter are also present but their play their roles a bit too straight, as if Rush was the only one who understood how to approach his role and play in a movie such as this one. Also Jeffrey Combs plays a small role, which I wished would had been a bit bigger, also since his character is not entirely irrelevant for the story.

You can tell that director William Malone likes and understands the genre. All he needs to do now is to make a good and effective genre movie and use his skills and knowledge more wisely, since he certainly does have it all in him. He know has mostly made some quite bad genre movies, of which this one is still one of his better ones and also certainly the best known movie he has done so far.

A fun but far from effective genre movie.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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