tek's rating:

The Haunted Mansion (PG)
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This came out in 2003, but I first watched it in 2023, because there was a remake in theaters. It's based on a Disney theme park attraction, but I've never even been to any Disney theme parks, so I wouldn't be able to compare the movie to the attraction. I'm putting my review under "supernatural", but it just as well could have gone under "family films" or "comedy". I didn't have much interest in ever seeing it, until the remake came out, because I'd kind of like to see that, and I want to be able to compare the two movies. (But there's no telling when I might get around to seeing the remake.) I'm not sure if I can say I liked this movie slightly more than I expected to, but I guess it wasn't bad. It wasn't especially good, either, but at least I'm glad I've finally seen it.

So, we see some backstory during the opening credits, but don't really learn more details about what we're seeing until later in the movie, which is set like a century after the scenes from the credits. There's this husband and wife realtor team, Jim (Eddie Murphy) and Sara Evers, who come to the attention of one of the ghosts in the titular haunted mansion, Edward Gracey, when some kid on a bike is delivering flyers. Gracey gets his butler, a ghost named Ramsley, to contact Sara, whom he wants to come to the mansion alone to talk about selling the place. But she, Jim, and their kids, Megan and Michael, were supposed to go on a trip together, to make up for Jim coming home late on their anniversary. Jim's really the only one who wants to detour to the mansion to do business, because representing an estate of that size would put them on a new level. So, all four of them go to the mansion, with Jim promising they won't stay more than 20 minutes. Unfortunately, there's a rain storm that strands them there for the night.

Well, it turns out that Sara looks exactly like Gracey's fiancée, Elizabeth, who had apparently killed herself before they could be married, which led to Gracey killing himself. And that whole situation apparently led to a curse on the mansion, so all the ghosts would be trapped there instead of moving on to the afterlife. Gracey wants to break the curse by marrying Sara, whom he believes is Elizabeth. But Jim meets the ghost of a gypsy named Madame Leota (Jennifer Tilly), who appears as a head inside a crystal ball. She has a different idea for how to break the curse, but I don't want to spoil what that is. There are also any number of other ghosts in and around the mansion, but the only ones we really get to know are a maid named Emma (Dina Spybey) and a footman named Ezra (Wallace Shawn). And they're not super important to the story, I'd say.

Anyway, I don't want to reveal any more of the plot, but suffice to say that after a bunch of not-very-scary supernatural scares and such, there's a happy ending. (And it's a damn good thing Sara didn't go to the mansion alone.)

supernatural & paranormal index