• Publication date: October 28, 2009

A Sleepover With 999 Ghostly Guests The Family Vacation Quite Literally From Hell

Like Disney�s �Pirates of the Caribbean� franchise �The Haunted Mansion� (2003) is inspired by the corporation�s identically titled theme park ride, renowned for its stunning optical illusions and realism.

Like Disney�s �Pirates of the Caribbean� franchise �The Haunted Mansion� (2003) is inspired by the corporation�s identically titled theme park ride, renowned for its stunning optical illusions and realism. Naturally, the difficulty in duplicating the fear, excitement, and even occasional laughs of the ride is no easy task, though with a special effects and makeup team whose past achievements include �Men in Black� (1997) and �Nutty Professor� (1996) one should expect a certain degree of excellence.

Occupying the director�s chair is none other than Rob Minkoff of �The Lion King� (1994) and �Stuart Little� (1999) notoriety. The film�s leading man, Eddie Murphy, needs almost no introduction. Murphy�s ascension to cinematic and comedic fame began as a cast member of �Saturday Night Live� (1980-84) and in films such as �Trading Places� (1983) and �Beverly Hills Cop� (1984). For the past decade Murphy has left his raunchy humor behind and instead found a niche in the family film genre, appearing in both Nutty Professor flicks and others like �The Adventures of Pluto Nash� (2002) and �Daddy Day Care� (2003).

Murphy depicts Jim Evers in Haunted Mansion, a workaholic real estate agent who emotionally neglects his two children in pursuit of his career. Sara (Marsha Thomason) is his loving, supportive wife and business partner. The children, Michael (Marc John Jefferies) and Megan (Aree Davis) are often disappointed with their father, who, distracted by business, frequently misses or forgets about family celebrations and outings. Despite Jim�s shortcomings he feels genuine guilt for not spending more time with the kids, and usually attempts to make up for it.

Such is the case one weekend in Louisiana; Sara and Jim are getting ready for a two day excursion at a nearby lake. Inevitably, however, the phone rings late the night before departure. The caller is Edward Gracey (Nathaniel Parker), the friendly owner of his family�s 19th century era mansion. Gracey would like an immediate appraisal of the land, and hopes that the duo can visit the following day. Always opportunists, Sara and Jim ready themselves for the trip and manage to convince Megan and Michael that it is a leisurely journey, not simply another business expedition.

Upon arrival the Gracey estate appears abandoned and its exterior is covered in shrubbery; to make matters worse swamps surround it. While Master Edward, its proprietor is a friendly, handsome young man his English butler, Ramsley (Terence Stamp) is an old gentleman with a creepy demeanor. After the Evers complete their appraisal there is a massive downpour, flooding the nearby roadways and confining the family to the Gracey mansion for the night.

It is during the family�s sleepover that Edward�s true motives become apparent, and the home�s hundreds of paranormal inhabitants reveal themselves. Sara bears a striking resemblance to Edward�s deceased bride to be, Elizabeth Henshaw who allegedly poisoned herself years ago; in despair Edward hanged himself and is cursed to live as a ghost alongside Ramsley. However Master Gracey is convinced that Sara is a reincarnation of Elizabeth and if he marries her, the curse cast upon him will be lifted, and he will be reunited with his fianc�e one again.

Naturally Jim is opposed to this, perhaps more so than Sara. Alongside the children and with the assistance of a bodiless gypsy, Jim will attempt to rescue his wife before the marriage is finalized. Yet by the end of film Edward will make an earth-shattering discovery that will affect the future of the Gracey estate, its ghostly inhabitants, and the Evers.

�The Haunted Mansion� was an incredible success earning over $182 million worldwide, not including DVD sales. The picture is rated PG for frightening images, thematic elements and language. Its runtime is 99 minutes