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movies > the haunted mansion

the haunted mansion

Consumed by his job as a real-estate broker, Jim Evers (Murphy) makes a detour during a much-needed family holiday to view a mansion, which could be the sale that makes his career. As a storm hits the area, the mansion's owner Master Gracey (Parker) and his staff make the family welcome, insisting they wait the bad weather out and stay the night. Things are not what they seem however, as it soon becomes clear to Jim and his wife Sara (Thompson) that the Gracey Mansion holds many secrets, both living and dead.

Another Disney Theme Park ride hits the silver screen but this one lacks the soul of a great movie.

The Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland has always been a firm favourite with visitors but while the movie uses many elements from the attraction, the short time you send on the ride is a lot more entertaining than the eighty-seven minutes you spend watching this film. It is all special effects and no substance at it tries to feel like a spectacle and not a piece of story telling.

The supporting cast do their best with the very limited script. Jennifer Tilly provides the laughs as Madame Leota, the all-seeing, magical crystal ball that sends the family off on their quest. Wallace Shawn and Dina Waters do their best with their limited roles by providing a few comedic moments. Brit Marsha Thompson continues to make a name for herself in Hollywood and Marc John Jefferies and Aree Davis are good as the Evers kids. Terence Stamp steals the show however as butler Ramsley. He is suitably creepy and has real fun with the role as he provides quite a few jumps for the audience.

Do you remember a time when Eddie Murphy was funny? The man is supposed to be a comedian but in many of his latest movies (not including his voice work for Shrek and Mulan) he has played the straight man and relied on others to provide the laughs. This is another one of those instances as he continues to flow through movies on autopilot so he can pick up his large paycheque. He is turning into one of those stars who just acts for the money and has lost the passion that drew him to show business in the first place. It is extremely hard to imagine Eddie Murphy doing any movie for the challenge of the role, especially if it was low budget, meaning he will never work with the more respected directors and writers and has no chance of ever getting an Oscar. He needs to return to his stand up roots and find his passion again.

The Haunted Mansion is all about the spectacle. The special effects and make-up are extremely good throughout. In fact the film is quite scary in parts for younger children, especially during the crypt sequence, which could give any child under the age of seven nightmares for a very long time. This does not make a great movie however as it all falls apart because of the very flimsy plot that is very reminiscent of many films in the genre, especially "The Haunting".

While the special effects are enough to entertain the younger viewer but everyone else will just be glad of the film's very short running time. The only real nightmare is watching the remnants of Eddie Murphy's career appearing on screen looking more dead than any zombie could ever do.

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