The Haunted Mansion
Director: Rob Minkoff
I am a huge Disney fan, and I have been lucky enough to visit the theme parks on multiple occasions. While visiting Disneyland when I was 12, I rode the Haunted Mansion for the first time and thought it was a great ride that was spooky but not terrifying. It was something that I could enjoy even though I am not a horror guy, but I like ghost stories.
Upon returning home my mom showed my sister and I The Haunted Mansion from 2003, starring Eddie Murphy, which I thought was a great movie. Now I know this film has quite a few haters, but I have to say even upon my rewatch I still find this to be a fun movie.
Like okay, I am not saying this is on the same level as Pirates of the Caribbean, but I still find The Haunted Mansion to be a fun time.
To start with a couple of negatives, I found that this film was never scary. I have never been a person who enjoys scary movies or anything, but even when I first saw this film, I didn’t find it scary apart from one jump scare at the beginning.
My other criticism is that the movie felt rather short this time around. The plot moves at such a quick pace, and I wish we had more time to actually explore the mansion. We get a couple of scenes exploring a couple of rooms, but we only meet 5 ghosts, and we only explore a couple of rooms. It would have been nice to be able to sit in a couple of rooms and use the atmosphere to give the film a larger scale.
Now moving on to my positives, I found this film to be a fairly good representation of the ride. The ride, in my opinion, is a smart and clever mix of creepy and gothic imagery with a cheesy element that allows it to still be accessible for kids.
It walks the line between scary and fun.
I feel that though this film did not have the scare factor compared to the ride, it chose to focus on making the scary stuff cheesy which I think works for this film. If you look at the cast, our lead is played by Eddie Murphy, who is best known for his comedic roles. So of course, this film took the comedic direction, and It led to many funny moments and scenes.
Anytime that Murphy is acting alongside a ghost, I felt like his charm and charisma really sucked me in and I laughed along with him. The story of the film is quite simple, it is a fetch quest-type plot with a couple of mysteries to be solved. We have the mystery of what happened to Master Gracey’s lost love, and then we have the plot of finding the key to save Sara the wife of Jim (Eddie Murphy).
It’s a plot that works well for the film and what they wanted to do. I must also say that the visual effects on the ghosts look better than expected for a film that is now 20 years old. One of my favourite scenes is when they go through the graveyard, and we get to see all the ghosts just living their lives.
There are plenty of references to the ride with many of the ghosts, rooms and even scenes pulled right out of the ride. Having ridden it a couple of times, it was cool to notice those Easter Eggs. Each character gets a moment to shine with both the kids and Sara getting moments to use the skills they set up earlier in the film that makes it feel less like a one-character show.
All in all, I think The Haunted Mansion is a really fun movie that captures the spirit of the ride and Disney in general. It may not be the best Disney movie based on a ride, but I think this is one that can easily be enjoyed by the whole family. Eddie Murphy does a great job as the lead giving us both heart and laughs. I feel this film works great as a not-so-scary movie that kids will love and adults will enjoy along with them. Give this one a watch before you go check out the new one!