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Neither scary nor funny, The Haunted Mansion is as lifeless as the ghosts in the movie.
All Critics (138)
| Top Critics (35)
| Fresh (18)
| Rotten (120)
| DVD (12)
Rob Minkoff has directed a movie that's nearly laughless and nowhere near as frightening as what's happened to Eddie Murphy's career.
A pleasant and atmospheric family romp, offering enough mildly chilling thrills to keep everyone entertained during its brief running time.
More Disneyland ride than movie, short on plot and long on dazzling visuals for the kiddies.
The point of Haunted Mansion is for audiences to sit back and enjoy the ride, which is easy to do thanks to an engaging story, the striking, Gothic-inspired set by Oscar-winner John Myhre and some delightful special effects.
It's perfectly palatable family fare for a long weekend when it's hard to find movies at the neighborhood 'plex that will please everyone.
Go on the Disney ride instead. It's over sooner.
When a Disney ride becomes a movie, there's not much hope that things will turn out as well as they do in this tame horror comedy.
Great visuals, few scares and laughs. But it IS clean family entertainment.
Beautiful production design and bags of promise give way to disappointment in this family comedy.
A thunderstorm of mysterious origin traps the old mansion.
Regardless of all the ghosts, or maybe because of them, The Haunted Mansion is one lifeless, spiritless affair.
"The Haunted Mansion" is the Olive Garden of Disney films: bland and seemingly pointless. You may not die from the experience, but is that really a blessing?
Terrible. The horror tricks used can hardly scare someone in this age (might have worked in the 1960s, I guess). The comedy track doesn't work either. Actual rating: -2/5.
Ah 2003, the start of Disney's major theme park ride adaptations into the movies...not counting a few earlier nondescript flicks and 'Mission to Mars' which I never realised was a theme park adaptation. If you think about this premise you could be forgiven for thinking it would turn out crap, especially with Eddie Murphy involved. And you wouldn't be far wrong on that one point, the casting of Murphy and his 'family' members in this film was a terrible choice.
The reason being they all stick out like a sore thumb in the story, they all look totally out of place and none can act too well. The film has been turned into a Murphy vehicle and the film suffers for it, it feels forced, his family in the film feel forced and fake, the silly humour and annoying dialog from Murphy feels forced and its all in there simply for Murphy, awful decision.
That aside the rest of the film is actually pretty sweet. The plot has been cleverly turned into a romantic ghost tale where upon the mansions owner is seeking his one true love whom he lost centuries ago. Of course his true love is Murphy's living wife so a battle of supernatural proportions ensues as Murphy must stop this aristocratic spook floating off with his wife.
What works is the extra casting of the main ghost servants and their master within the mansion. Stamp is perfect as the stiff upper lipped butler with a dark secret, Wallace Shawn is perfect as the quirky sidekick footman ghost, Tilly is surprisingly good as the crystal ball gypsy spirit and Nathaniel Parker plays the noble British toff manor owner to a tee complete with thick dark locks. Not too sure how these ghosts work though, at times they can't or don't seem to interact with the living, then all of a sudden they can touch and pick things up.
Its all very cliched and hammy of course being based on a stereotypical haunted house attraction but that's fine, you expect that. In fact they capture that atmosphere perfectly, the whole eccentric Disney ambiance coupled with an eerie fanciful glow. Indeed the film does work better if you have actually been on the attraction at Disney World. There are many many little homages to the ride throughout the film from visual references to dialog, some sequences showing identical sections from the attraction. It does sounds kinda tacky but it really works nicely and gives you a pleasant ghostly trip down memory lane.
I really liked how the ghosts become 'more dead' visually the further from the mansion they are. So once outside all the ghosts have a really cool supernatural blue glow or aura which looks quite striking. I liked the graveyard and how it housed many of the ghosts from the attraction including the three famous hitchhiker spooks. As said I also liked the replication of sets from the attraction too, the hallway of portraits being the main one easily. One thing I didn't like was the swamp set New Orleans look for the mansion, not my personal cup of tea, I prefer the Liberty Square Dutch Gothic design from Disney World's Magic Kingdom.
But how did that ghostly horse drawn hearse crash through the walls of the mansion complete with Murphy and co inside?. How would ghosts be able to knock through walls when they are...errr ghosts. And how on earth would living people be able to go through the wall with the ghosts??.
On the whole the film does look really good and clearly a lot of thought and craftsmanship went into making the visuals realistic. Its really nice (and amazingly surprising) that they actually constructed the mansion instead of relying on CGI. The interiors and props all benefit from genuine craftsmanship too which really sets the mood, for all you 'Nightmare Before Christmas'/Addams Family/Munster lovers out there (like me) you'll love it.
This is a film you really really really really did expect to be utter utter utter tripe...but its not!. Its actually a really decent looking light-hearted supernatural ride just like the real attraction. The homages are great for folk who have been to the attraction but for those who haven't they just come across as neat spooky visual candy. As I said the only let down is Murphy and co as the endangered mortal family, well mainly Murphy. His tomfoolery lets down the quite decent performances of the supernatural cast.
Only one long commercial for the Disney amusement park attraction, with Murphy in the onerous stereotype of scared jiggaboo pitchman. Stamp does his best to raise the material past the bar but to no avail. A pox on Unca Walt.
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