Return to House on Haunted Hill (2007)

Rating: D+

Dir: Víctor García
Star: Amanda Righetti, Erik Palladino, Cerina Vincent, Tom Riley

Not really a sequel for which the world was calling out, and our interest was largely only because of the presence of Jeffrey Combs, reprising his role as the mad Dr. Vanacutt, whose work was responsible for the ghosts which haunt the titular mansion, and stalwarts of British genre TV shows, Andrew Lee Potts, (Strange and Primeval) and Steven Pacey (Blake’s 7). Though all three are solid, none of them are in this nearly enough: Combs has a couple of yelled sentences right at the end, and the Brits, despite sporting most unexpected American accents, have about the usual survival prospects of foreigners in American horror films. The “return” is because Ariel (Righetti), the sister of one of the original victims gets involved in a scheme with various dubious characters, to swipe a rare antique idol.

Hey, that’s two of these movies this week – though any other connection to The Maltese Falcon is purely coincidental. Turns out the Baphomet idol was responsible for Vanacutt going from Nobel prize-winner to psychotic loon, and its fate is connected to that of the restless spirits. Despite a couple of semi-interesting characters and occasionally snappy dialogue, this is mostly tediously-dull stuff, enlivened only by some impressive deaths. I say “impressive” purely from a technical viewpoint, since there’s no emotional connection to the victims, and even from a realism viewpoint, they’re a bit questionable – if someone has their limbs pulled on, even really hard, would they actually explode into a mist of gore?

That kind of momentary halt aside, interest is basically on a downward slope from the opening on, with the usual selection of cheap attempts at scares, in lieu of anything amusing. The predictability with which events unfold is…well, it’s entirely predictable, and poor Jeffrey is wasted every bit as much as in the original. There are gaps in the plot logic: the ghosts pick a side, even though it’s in their best interests simply to have anyone at all recover the idol, and the survivors eventually end up crawling into one of an array of incinerators after the treasure, for some reason known only to Ariel. Now, that’s trust. Despite moments of marginal style, they were skating on thin ice given the fairly mediocre original, and this is definitely an unwelcome Return