House on Haunted Hill follows a group of strangers as they agree to spend an entire night within a spooky mansion, with complications ensuing once their oddball host (Vincent Price’s Frederick Loren) makes his sinister plans known. Filmmaker William Castle has infused House on Haunted Hill with a predictably low-rent feel that’s compounded by an often excessively stagy narrative, as the movie consists mostly of long, drawn-out sequences in which scarcely-developed figures wander aimlessly through the halls and rooms of the title locale (in which virtually the entire picture transpires). The movie’s shot-on-the-cheap atmosphere is certainly perpetuated by Hill’s reliance on almost eye-rollingly silly jump scares, while scripter Robb White’s uneventful, talky screenplay ensures that House on Haunted Hill is, generally speaking, unable to provoke any emotion from the viewer aside from boredom. The underwhelming climactic reveal, which is decidedly (and disappointingly) not supernatural in the slightest, confirms the film’s place as a bizarrely half-baked endeavor, which ultimately confirms House on Haunted Hill‘s place as a far-from-classic misfire from an exceedingly erratic director.
** out of ****