Stars: F. Murray Abraham, Tony Shaloub, Shannon Elizabeth, Kathryn Anderson, J.R. Bourne, Embeth Davidtz, Matthew Lillard
Director: Steve Beck
Writer: Neal Marshall Stevens – based on a story by Robb White
This remake of the 1960 William Castle original entails some terrifically ingenious mayhem making it a horror film with a capital H.
It’s a classic haunted house tale but you’ve never seen a house quite like this one.
The story revolves around an eccentric and quite wealthy doctor (F. Murray Abraham as Cyrus Kriticos) who dies and leaves his house to his nephew Arthur (Tony Shaloub). Arthur, who’s been living in a cramped apartment after his own home was destroyed by fire which cost the life of his wife, is overjoyed at the inheritance, feeling that now he can raise his two children (teen daughter Kathy played by Shannon Elizabeth and Bobby played by Alec Roberts) in a more family-friendly atmosphere. They move in to Cyrus’ well-appointed pad, only to discover that this is no normal house. It’s interior structure operates like a giant clock and maze with every room glass-paneled and etched in strange Latin text and pictograms.
Convinced that there’s a fortune hidden somewhere in the house, the family. accompanied by housekeeper-nanny Maggie (Rah Digga), cautiously tries to investigate. A young psychic friend (Matthew Lillard) of Uncle Cyrus shows up to warn the family of possible dangers within. Then another Cyrus associate named Kalina (Embeth Davidtz) appears offering a little more insight into the history of the house. But it’s too late. Instead of the hoped for fortune, the family discovers each of the 13 ghosts whose souls Cyrus “collected”. These are not friendly ghosts by any means and they’re not too happy about being trapped.
Lotta says: The film is slyly directed for maximum tension with grisly twists and turns throughout. Nicely done is Shaloub’s family man character, Arthur, a decent sort who has suffered much tragedy and loss yet is compelled to find the courage and selflessness to save his family from the evil within.
It’s rated R or horror, lots of violence/gore, nudity, and some language.