DAY FOURTEEN OF 31 DAYS OF HORROR
RETURN TO HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL - 2007
"Pretty creepy, isn't it? You know, they say that the souls of the people that died here apparently still haunt the house."
In 2007, a straight to DVD sequel came out for House on Haunted Hill. Directed by Victor Garcia, Return to House on Haunted Hill is exactly as the title promises it would be. Sara, the survivor from the first film, kills herself leaving her sister, Ariel, with a mystery to unravel and a journal from a crazy doctor. A group of treasure hunters kidnap Ariel and her friend and drag them into the house to find a mysterious idol that's worth millions. They believe Ariel will know about it because of her sister, but unfortunately Ariel never believed her sister's story of ghosts haunting the mansion. And so Ariel, and a group of characters, find themselves locked inside the house fighting for their lives and turning on each other.
Armanda Righetti plays our lead of Ariel and does a great job of being a bad ass female lead. She puts up a fight at every turn and struggles with the guilt of her sister and the weight of the spirits on her shoulders. Erik Palladino plays the villain lead and is super creepy and cocky, you're rooting the whole time for his imminent violent death. While the rest of the characters are used as horror movie tropes and stereotypes, it still ends up working because that's really all this is. A basic, fun time, bad sequel that I still enjoy. Sure there's plot holes and bad writing and over the top acting. But this is what I love about early 2000 era horror movies.
This time around we learn more about the terrifying spirits that haunt the house, we realize they just want to be freed and that they're stuck there repeating their deaths over and over. So no wonder they act out and kill everyone. While I found the first film way more creepy, this one is way more gory. There's some over the top kills like one guy getting pulled limb from limb or a girl getting her face perfectly cut off. There's less dark humor than the first one and the characters don't interact as well.
Overall, this is more of a mystery solving ghost story than a straight up horror film and I enjoyed seeing where the story went and learning more about the house. I still prefer House on Haunted Hill because I have good memories of viewing it when I was like 13 and being scared shit-less. And obviously, the production costs were higher on the first so we got a lot more creepy ghost scenes and that epic opening scene in the theme park. But the effects hold up in this movie for the most part due to their use of practical effects. In a final scene there is some cringey CG with what seem to be cremation ghosts, but it doesn't ruin it too much.
The ending is as expected but still great none the less, and even a little emotional. Honestly though, someone should probably just tear down that house at this point. Or let me move in.