This is my first visit to the house, and if Warner Bros. churns out another installment, it’d be hard to decline the invite. As you’ve decoded, Return to House on Haunted Hill is the sequel to the successful 1999 movie starring Geoffrey Rush, Famke Janssen, and Ali Larter. You won’t recognize (m)any of the faces here, and you don’t need to—half of them end up dead anyway.
While the original (eerrr, remake of the 1959 William Castle classic) had a gaggle of thrill-seekers challenged to stay in the house for $1 million, Víctor García’s sequel hosts a larger group after the statue of Baphomet, which may lift the curse on the monster house…or make someone $5 million richer. Heading [and we’ll call them] Group #1 is Archaeologist Richard Hammer (Pacey), who isn’t as smart as his British accent suggests, though his History Channel lecture on the statue does lessen our confusion. His team is made up of Ariel (sister of Larter’s Sara), focus of three (3!) instances of a wet t-shirt and—well, that’s all you need to know; the others are filler, including Group #2 led by Hammer’s ex-protégé Desmond (Palladino).
But you don’t care about the plot. And why should you? It’s all a distraction from the Cinemax-inspired lesbianism and Itchy and Scratchy-esque deaths, linked with dismemberments, decapitating refrigerators, and brain removals free of charge by Dr. Richard B. Vannacutt. This is where the creativity is stored for 74 brisk minutes (not including credits).
Return, a movie at its most fun when not barricaded by thoughtless allusions to The Grudge and Saw, surpasses our expectations founded on other STV horror junk. True, the acting is intolerable (as it almost should be), the actors (all of whom undoubtedly bought their IMDb headshot) are forgettable, and had it been released theatrically would’ve earned fewer stars. But with a slaughter every 9.25 minutes, Return to House on Haunted Hill makes for a fun last resort rental.
The Search for an Idol: Dr. Richard Hammer’s Quest (2:51): This in-character piece has the archaeologist discussing the legend of Baphomet and his mission.
Additional Scenes (7:45): There are four here, two of which are extendeds. None add to the product, so you’re better off skipping.
And a Music Video.