Haunted mansions are great, as each scared off or slain victim adds to their mystique and ultimate power. So, when you have built one, it’s best not to stop the stream of occupants enters, if they dare. In 2007, a straight to D.V.D. sequel helped bring new guests to the famous house, complete with fresh sequels, gory deaths and a whole lot of horror in Return to House On Haunted Hill.
With the ghastly birthday event eight years ago, the lone survivor, Sarah, told her sister, Ariel, what happened and then sometime later took her own life. Ariel and her boyfriend, are kidnapped by the murderous art dealer Desmond, who sets the two, and a collection of his assistants 12 hours to find a mysterious idol on the property. They have absolutely no choice but to go back into the mansion, and to find the idol, yet when the same grisly doom befalls the treasure hunters, as the guests experienced seven years ago. Ariel learns that some things should stay buried.
A lot has changed since the previous film graced our scenes, and despite being untouched since the finale, it’s gloomier than before in a way that sets a division between the old film and the new. But don’t be fooled the ghoulish deaths and creepy effects are still present. The feeling of distrust among the group is also front and centre. But unfortunately, little of the original casts returns, but footage from the first film is interspersed for people who need a refresher to the history of the House on Haunted Hill.
The film also spends a good deal of time attempting to tie in the elevated supernatural of the first film as the result of some mystic deity residing in the mansion. It adds a wider dimension to the rich tapestry of the folklore, again keeping up with the gimmicks to enhance the storytelling, The D.V.D. utilises this chose your own adventure method of play that boasts up to 90 variations of how the film would play out. It’s nice to see the medium being used in innovative ways but can still be enjoyed as the original creators intended.
While the campy charm is sacrificed for a more serious spin, Return to House on Haunting Hill offers a similar experience to its predecessor, yet doesn’t feel like it’s treading entirely on the same ground as a lot of sequels tend to. Those who are fascinated with the chilling details of the lore of the famous manor would be foolish to miss this. While some things have changed, and some things have stayed the same, Return to House on Haunting Hill is still a good way to spend an evening.
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