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House on Haunted Hill  (1999)

Cast: Geoffrey Rush, Famke Janssen, Chris Kattan, Peter Gallagher, Taye Diggs, Ali Larter, Bridgette Wilson
Director: William Malone
U.S. Distribution: Warner Bros.
U.S. Release Date: 10/29/99
Running Time: 1:55
MPAA Rating: R

This is not your father's House on Haunted Hill. It bares little resemblance and too little of the fun and subtlety of the 1959 picture with the same name.

What the new film does have is some eye-popping special effects and quite a few good scares. It is also much too convoluted and contains way too much of wimpy Chris Kattan. (After appearing in this and Night at the Roxbury earlier this year, it's obvious that the "Saturday Night Live" regular is not ready for box office either.)

The plot involves an eccentric millionaire (Geoffrey Rush) and an offer of several million dollars for anyone who can survive one night in the haunted House with the murderous past. The former home of the Vannacutt Psychiatric Institute for the Criminally Insane is pretty cool and creepy, but also a lot more confining than the exterior shots lead you to believe. When it finally comes alive during the final third of the film, it all but begs you to root for it to kill all inhabitants.

© 1999, Delton Perrodin

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