Review: Return to House on the Haunted Hill


Well this one snuck out. Despite the moderate success of the 1999 version of ‘House on Haunted Hill’ the sequel was sent straight to DVD - and after the first few scenes it was no wonder why!

The plot (incidentally the thing which hampers this film the most) is nothing to do with the first film, only a very tenuous link between characters as one of the girls is the cousin of one of the characters in the first film. This time a group of archaeologists are lured to the house through reports that the ultra rare ‘Baphomet’ statue was in the keeping of the good doctor at the asylum before its premature closure. When the group are there, of course none believing in ghosts one by one they are picked off by the spiritual inhabitants of the place.

The basic premise of the plot is not really the problem and for the first half of the film the murders come fast and bloody; despite some slightly dubious acting I was enjoying it. The problem comes as the film begins to elaborate on the silly statue aspects of the story. It was shit as an idea to begin with, but I was willing to let it pass as a mere excuse to lure people back to the asylum, but to have to sit through some really silly explanations about the statue being a keeper of the dead and the fact that the spirits were trapped there until it leaves the premises; bollocks, and it ruined the second half of the film especially the really cheesy couple of end sequences.

Many other aspects of the movie weren’t quite as bad. The acting was a bit bollocks but the girls are pretty and there are a couple of decent sex scenes. The special effects were clearly CGI but pretty good regardless. The location (as in the Asylum) seemed to be the same as the first. But the lack of decent plot and the pace in which the group moved through the house meant that there was absolutely no time for any sort of atmosphere to form and as a result the film is not scary in any way.

The best aspects of this movie, particularly in the first half, are the deaths. Thankfully the film makers decided to put a bit of thought into the deaths and whilst they are not quite as cool as in the first film they are surprisingly gruesome. There is no torture or anything like that but there is a fair amount of blood. Once scene where a guy gets torn apart is probably the highlight. Don’t misunderstand me, its not a gore-fest, just simply more gory than I imagined.

Overall, if the film had had a better story this one may have done better. The statue plotline really let the film down. As a result, despite a promising start, the film will eventually seem to drag and by the time it was finished there was no question what score it should get; a flat 5. Not as shit as it could have been, or as I expected, but it did have a very dubious feel about it. If you enjoyed the first and are curious about this film give it a watch, but I’m afraid the single watch it has got from me is all it’s getting.

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