Disney nowadays holds a cinematic stronghold on the world of cinema, its intellectual property has been constantly smashed box office records and other ventures (like its famous theme parks) have set the standard of what triumph in those fields look like. In 2003, after the success of a conversion of their Pirates of the Caribbean ride into a Hollywood blockbuster, Disney tried again. The result was an interesting blend of adventure, horror and comedy of one of their most beloved park rides, The Haunted Mansion.
The Haunted Mansion starts out with Eddie Murphy’s character, as a work-focused but heavily competent property agent, Jim Evers. His commitment to his work often puts struggles on his family life, as his wife, who is also a property agent, points out. Jim gets a lead and turns his families vacation into a visit to a potentially very lucrative looking Louisianan antebellum mansion. Now he and his family, however, must deal with the most peculiar previous occupants first.
The Haunted Mansion is a strong film that mixes a macabre sense of horror with a comedy film. With such a rich mythos of horror to draw upon you’d think that Disney would just present the plot of the ride verbatim on the screen, I’m pleased that they did not. As such an ambitious alternation as the new storyline allows Eddie to shine into his own. While also feeling very familiar with the overall feel of the theme park attractions.
But it is not just Eddie riffing jokes on his own, he has a wide variety of supporting actors to bounce off with and they each bring their own charms. You’ve got the legendary character actor Wallace Shawn, and Terrance Stamp as the proper yet menacing butler Ramsley, A shout out also goes to Jennifer Tilly for her strong performance as Madame Leota.
The film looks good and is engaging enough to help keep the plot interesting for its hour and a half run-time. The visual effects on some of the ghosts look straight out of the ride which is charming, and the grounds of the mansion are explored which leads to some interesting and inventive locations.
The Haunted Mansion is a film that anybody can enjoy, this is probably one of the biggest surprises of the film, being that it feels like a perfect compromise between making an enjoyable adventure that can appeal to all ages and an intriguing storyline to boot. Its humour and atmosphere mirror the ride it is based on perfectly, without directly plastering the storyline of the ride on the silver screen. The Haunted Mansion will leave you grinning like the Three Grinning Ghosts and that’s worth a stay or two.
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