By Raoul Duke
15 years ago a sequel to a remake was unheard of, with the exception of The Fly II. However, in 2007 Hollywood it doesn’t really come as a surprise and for these reasons my expectations going into The Return to House on Haunted Hill were significantly low. The former, released in 1999, was a huge disappointment, despite having an excellent cast and decent budget. I was also a huge fan of the original, so I felt they wasted a perfect opportunity to be re-imagine a concept that could do with updating. The original had 6 party-goers tricked into entering the frightful Vannacutt estate and struggling to escape the house alive.
This time around, the story is just as simple. After Sara, (one of the survivors from the first movie), dies under mysterious circumstances, her sister (played by Amanda Righetti) decides to investigate. It eventually leads back to the haunted house and along with a group of craven antique bandits; she sets about looking for a valuable stature believed to be responsible for the house’s evil. Ofcourse, it all goes smoothly, right ? Wrong. The spirits within once again take their sweet time in inflicting as much pain and suffering as possible on their new house-guests.
The acting leaves much to be desired. With the exception of the awesome performance of British actor Steven Pacey and cult-horror-icon Jeffrey Combs (the only returning cast-member from the 1999 original), the casting feels like they simply wheeled in a group of failed soap-actors and hoped they would have some chemistry on set. The film’s villain, Erik Palladino, lacked the charisma to play a charmingly wicked sociopath and we are left hoping Combs will provide entertaining conflict, yet he doesn’t have any lines……..go figure. Luckily this was the only real criticism I have with the movie.
The special effects were good and used sparingly, and the environment was enough to send shivers down anyone's spine. The death-scenes were cool, and without spoiling anything I can say if you have a fetish for gore and would enjoy seeing a character being ripped apart by all 4 limbs or a character's internal organs being sucked out by a possessed wall, this movie is for you. The character development was adequate and I was comfortably satisfied with the film’s ending. Overall, the perfect movie for Halloween or just a Friday Fright Night with some friends. Full marks to Victor Garcia for creating a good follow-up to a mediocre film.