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Directed by William Malone (1999, Warner Bros.)
Starring Geoffrey Rush, and Peter Gallagher

A man offers five people $1 million if they spend the night in a haunted house. But the house doesn't want them to survive the night.



0 stars

December 22nd, 1999 in the Theatre  

I was caught completely off guard by this movie.  This was not the one I had thought I was seeing.  My intention was to see The Haunting, so when Geoffrey Rush's name came up on screen, and Liam Neeson's didn't, I was really confused. 

I should have walked out. 

There were actually a few decent moments in the whole thing.  But the rest was overacted (by everybody except the two who survive the night), too gruesome for my tastes, and the ending was way too strange.  It would have been much better if the entire thing was a gag by a survivor of the asylum, instead of the dust-ghost.  Having said that, the dust-ghost at the end was a really, really neat special effect.  It was truly mesmerizing, and I could understand any urge to try and touch it. 

The plot is simple.  A horror-theme master invites people to his wife's birthday party.  He offers to give them $1 million dollars if they spend the night, and survive.  The guest list is rewritten by a mysterious entity.  Mr Price thinks it's his wife.  She thinks he did it.  It turns out that the house did it. 

The guests are not impressed, but think they will spend the night anyway, and get their money.  They are all too practical for ghosts, except the owner, who tries to leave the house before it's too late.  But he gets trapped, as well.  Things start getting out of hand, and each spouse thinks the other did it. 

It turns out that the house was actually an asylum in the 1930s, and everybody died there except five people, when the inmates tried to take it over.  The director burned the entire insides of the place, though everything looks pretty unburned, seventy years later.  The people the house invited to stay the night were descendants of the five people who escaped.

There's not much else to say.  This was a Halloween movie, pure and simple.  I wanted to leave about halfway through, but it was at that point that I became intrigued, because I figured it couldn't be the house.  There must be someone, maybe an inmate, who was behind it.  But no, I was wrong.  The place was "just evil".


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