Return to House on Haunted Hill (2007)

While the original remake (oxymoron?) of House on Haunted Hill was notable for having a black hero (Taye Diggs), this direct-to-video sequel is notable for NOT having a black hero. It basically steps over the fact that Diggs’ character survived the first film, instead focusing on Ali Larter’s character, Sara. Why? Would having a black lead automatically curb the movie’s popular appeal? Or maybe it’s because black people would have enough sense not to GO BACK INTO THE HAUNTED INSANE ASYLUM.

After surviving that night, Diggs’ character probably took his million-dollar prize and left the city, the state, even the hemisphere, never looking back once. Not Sara, though. Her Overly Curious Caucasian (OCC) horror movie genes lead her to obsess over the Vannacutt Psychiatric Institute for the Criminally Insane — so much so that she’s prepared to return to the loony bin to remove an ancient relic believed to be the source of the evil. Unfortunately for her, a Diehard-like group of multi-ethnic, militaristic bad guys want the relic too, and they kill her in their effort to find it.

The gang of hoods grab the next best thing they can find, Sara’s sister Ariel (Amanda Righetti, who displays the emotional range of lettuce), and head to the “house,” where they proceed to get sliced and diced. Ariel at one point actually makes it out of the asylum, only to fall prey to her OCC instincts and VOLUNTARILY go back inside to rescue her boyfriend. Of course, it’s an easy decision for her because she’s the heroine and is almost guaranteed to survive.

Meanwhile, the lone black guy, a generic thug named Warren (Chucky Venice) — you guessed it — dies first. (The other minority, an Asian gal, follows shortly thereafter.) Despite all of this, Return to House on Haunted Hill does actually deliver the gory goods (for a DTV release, at least), even with a silly ending that asks us to sympathize with the ghosts.

“What makes you think this is a bad neighborhood?”
“Let’s see…certain death should be right over here.”
I forget: why did she get this gig again?
“Raggedy Ann’s Halloween Special” wet many a bed.
The boss hated it when Hugo took time out from the heist to check his pitch.
Stacey earned an “A” in Chode Sculpture 101.

What do you think?