The Haunted Mansion (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner09/02/2004

One out of Five stars
Running time: 87 mins

Warning: movies based on theme park rides can be bad as well as good. The Haunted Mansion has poor acting, a dismal script and only one scary scene.

You have to laugh at the mindset of Hollywood executives – after the huge success of Pirates of the Caribbean (which was, yes, based on a Disneyland ride), one wonders how many other theme park ride movies have been greenlighted (greenlit?) in its wake.

Perhaps we’ll get Splash Mountain, with Keanu canoeing a bunch of kids to safety down a mountainside? Or a movie about Spinning Teacups? At any rate, The Haunted Mansion stands as stark warning that theme park ride movies can be bad as well as good.

Estate Agent Attempts To Sell Mansion

Eddie Murphy (who really, really ought to fire his agent) stars as New Orleans real estate salesman Jim Evers (“At Evers and Evers we want you to be happy for evers and evers”). His wife Sarah (Marsha Thomason) is his business partner and they have two cute (and surprisingly, not that annoying) kids, Michael (Marc John Jeffries) and Megan (Aree Davis). Tempted by the opportunity to sell a huge mansion, Jim and Sarah stop off to visit the house with their children in tow.

Unsurprisingly, they end up having to stay the night and soon discover that there is more to the house and its inhabitants than meets the eye.

The acting is pretty bad. Terence Stamp, in particular (as sinister butler Ramsley) takes his presumably scripted ‘haughty butler’s demeanour’ and broadens it into visible contempt for the entire movie. You can practically see the dollar signs in his eyes. Nathaniel Parker (as the mansion’s owner, Master Gracey) does the best he can with a tired and predictable script and there’s passable support from Wallace Shawn and Jennifer Tilly as ‘Madame Leota’, the head in a crystal ball.

Early Contender For Worst Film Of The Year

As for Murphy, he’s likeable as always, but the character isn’t particularly interesting or funny and there are no memorable one-liners. In fact, the only decent performance is by Aree Davis, so let’s hope she survives after this flops.

The main problem with the film is that it fails as both comedy and horror. There are no funny scenes and only one genuinely scary moment which, ironically, is probably too scary for any younger children who might actually have tolerated this. (It involves a combination of zombie skeletons and spiders). Weirdly, the film also seems to have had a further 12 minutes cut out of it since its U.S. release – publicity photos show a character called The Axeman, who doesn’t appear in the film, so Heaven knows how awful that bit must have been.

In short, The Haunted Mansion is probably best avoided, as it’s an early contender for one of the worst films of the year. Let’s just hope that Murphy fires his agent before he’s offered Haunted Mansion II.

Film Trailer

The Haunted Mansion (PG)
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Content updated: 13/12/2017 09:08

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