The Haunted Mansion
The weekend is here! Thank goodness! This week has dragged by at a snail's pace and these next two days off are very much needed. I woke up to some really good news though! The 49ers just traded for Christian McCaffrey! I am now a lot more excited about the NFL season. Anyways, we're not here to talk about football, we're here to discuss...
The Haunted Mansion (2003)
Here's something that's interesting to me. In 2003, separated by a shade less than five months, Disney released two movies based off of theme park rides. This one, and of course, Pirates of the Caribbean. One of them spawned a franchise and the other was considered a box office and critical failure. On the surface, it's odd. They both had charismatic leads, both involved a curse preventing people from dying, were based on rides, and each had a very good actor playing the antagonist. Geoffery Rush in Pirates and Terrence Stamp in Mansion. I think part of it is that haunted house movies aren't exactly hard to find. But before 2003, when was the last good mainstream pirate movie? Hook from 1991 is the only one I can think of.
Anyways, Eddie Murphy plays a real estate agent who is very good and very driven. We find out right away he will blow off his own anniversary for a new customer. To make up for it, he suggests they take a weekend trip to the lake with the kids. But before they can go, his wife gets a call from the owner of a mansion in Louisiana's bayou. Eddie sees dollar signs and can't let that go, so he convinces his family they'll only be there for a quick 20 minutes and then they'll leave. Unfortunately they get caught in a rain storm and are forced to stay the night.
That's the story in a nutshell, and I have to give it credit, the plot is surprisingly good for this type of movie. I remember the bad reviews for it and I expected a train wreck, but no, the story and movie is entertaining, it has twists and turns and moves along at a brisk pace. Another thing going in this movie's favor is the set. I love old houses and this one is beautiful. It has secret passages, winding stairs, a crypt, a spooky attic and more. Since it's so big and so varied, you can't tell where people are in relation to each other and it adds to the eerie feeling of the house because when the danger kicks in, you don't exactly know where help is.
I don't care what the reviews say, it's a fun movie. It has humor, mainly because of Eddie Murphy, it's cool to look at and there are even some kind of intense moments of danger. There's a scene where they have to get a key from inside a tomb. When Eddie pushes off the casket lid and it falls to the ground, we all know what's coming. When they try to leave, the corpse sits up like the Undertaker. What comes next is a goofy and fun little fight scene, but more problems arise when Eddie drops the key into the water. Things go from bad to worse when zombies start literally coming out of the walls. It's a really cool sequence and probably the "scariest" moment in the movie.
The side characters are just OK. The owner of the house didn't do much for me, Stamp's Ramsley is entertaining because he goes out of his way to make sure everything he does is as creepy as possible. Murphy's family is fine but they're nothing to write home about. I also liked Ezra and Emma, two ghost servants who try and help the family while avoiding Ramsley's wrath. The cast is small but that's fine, we don't need to follow around anyone else. It keeps the moving tight and keeps it moving.
It's not the greatest movie you'll see, but it's fun and better than the reputation it has. I watched it and was entertained and at no point did it drag. It's good for the family and I'm happy to find out that it's gotten a bit of a cult following because it's not as bad as people have said. I think it's mainly because Eddie Murphy is so good on screen, but still, it's worth a watch.