House on Haunted Hill

Bomb Rating: 

I don't know who accepts an invitation that states, "Come spend a night in a house. If you're not dead in the morning, you'll get a million dollars."

The only thing I can figure out here is that the filmmakers were sitting around a table banging out conceptual ideas for this film, and one guy mentioned he liked haunted house movies. Then another guy said, "Yeah, let's make a haunted house movie." So they had a simple, sound premise: a haunted house. Then, at some point during this whole process, another one of the filmmakers jumped up and screamed, "Let out the chimps!" who then proceeded to write the rest of the script.

The premise has five people going to a house. If they survive the night, they'll get a million dollars each. They're invited by theme-park mogul Steven Price (Geoffrey Rush), who's holding a birthday party for his wife (Famke Janssen). The five people who show up are Eddie (Taye Diggs), Dr. Blackburn (Peter Gallagher), Sara (Ali Larter), Melissa (Bridgette Wilson) and Pritchett (Chris Kattan).

First of all, I don't know who accepts an invitation that states: "Come spend a night in a house. If you're not dead in the morning, you'll get a million dollars," but whatever logic they use to justify the risk is good reason to root for the house. That's like getting an invitation to stand in the middle of the freeway. If you don't get hit in twelve hours, you get a million bucks.

The contribution of the chimps comes in the film's second half. After the people realize something is afoot in the house, the film becomes psychotic. Essentially, the concept of a haunted house becomes an excuse for somebody to show off a big, black cloud effect which terrorizes the survivors. It reminded me of accidentally walking into the smoking section of my favorite local restaurant.

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