40 years after Vincent Price invited us to the House on Haunted Hill, a new generation emerges with Geoffrey Rush channeling the inner Price within him.
Steven Price is an amusement park mogul who thrives on thrills and scares, making his rides horror-themed. While his business is booming, his marriage to Evelyn isn’t exactly great. When she decides to hold her upcoming birthday party at a mysterious house that used to be an abandoned mental asylum, Price comes up with an ingenious plan. Shredding Evelyn’s original guest list, he picks random people and has a challenge for them.
When the guests arrive, they include Sara, a producer’s assistant who is posing as her boss; Eddie, a former pro basketball player; Melissa, an entertainment journalist; and Donald, a resident doctor, and Watson, the owner of the house. Mr. Price offers the guests to spend the night in the hotel and they would each get $1,000,000. Should anyone decide to leave, the total amount would be split amongst the remaining guests. However, Watson knows the history of the place and after failing to convince everyone to leave, the house goes on lockdown. It is believed the ghosts of the patients, once undergoing terrible experiments from the crazy Dr. Vannacutt, are haunting the place. These guests will soon learn the truth.
Having been 40 years since the original, this remake not only delivers, but adds something fresh to the mix, rather just deal with some haunted house. The fact we see the house being a former mental asylum where experiments were held is the fresh new element as we see a prologue in which the patients burn down the place and nearly killing everyone involved. And much like Elisha Cook in the original, Chris Kattan takes over as Watson Prichett in this remake and he gives his best scared comic relief in the role.
However, it is Geoffrey Rush who really delivers in the remake, channeling his inner Vincent Price. He not only acts in a way that would make the horror icon Price but pulls off the look quite impressively. And his name is a perfect homage to the late horror legend as well. Famke Janssen took the Carol Ohmart role and amplifies it to ten in the role of Steven’s nouveau riche wife Evelyn. And the guest list is a bit akin to their original counterparts in some way.
Taye Diggs’ Eddie is an ex-pro basketball player akin to Richard Long’s test pilot Lance. He comes off as the most level-headed. Ali Larter’s Sara lied her way to the house, and she doesn’t go as scream-crazy like counterpart Carolyn Craig as Nora. Sara here is a bit more headstrong while they gave Bridgette Wilson’s Melissa is given a bit more to do when compared to Julie Mitchum’s Ruth because of the advances in journalism these days where she sports a digital camera. The film is rounded out by Peter Gallagher’s Dr. Blackburn, who is a little more into his practice than his OG counterpart, Alan Marshal’s Dr Trent. And add to the fact, the scares are more amplified due to the backstory in this one.
House on Haunted Hill is a fantastic remake that outdoes the original and that’s a rarity. There’s a better backstory but at the same time, Geoffrey Rush’s Steven Price is an amazing tribute to the legend that is Vincent Price. A riveting horror film that is worth checking out!
WFG RATING: A-
Warner Bros. Pictures presents a Dark Castle Entertainment production. Director: William Malone. Producers: Gilbert Adler, Michael K. Ross, Joel Silver, and Robert Zemeckis. Writer: Dick Beebe; based on the original film written by William Castle and Robb White. Cinematography: Rick Bota. Editing: Anthony Adler.
Cast: Geoffrey Rush, Famke Janssen, Taye Diggs, Ali Larter, Chris Kattan, Peter Gallagher, Bridgette Wilson, Max Perlich, Jeffrey Combs, Dick Beebe, Lisa Loeb, James Marsters.