The film does a good job of keeping the same feel as the attraction in the theme park. It is something that is intended to startle and amuse parents and simultaneously scare their children. While it has been over 25 years since I last stepped foot in the Haunted Mansion at Disney World, I was still able to see many of the things that I remembered from it in the movie. Instead of the action inside the Mansion being directed at the viewer, it is realtor Jim Evers (Eddie Murphy) that is the target of the haunted events.
Murphy does a good job of holding the movie together. He is funny when he needs to be and serious at appropriate times. It allows the movie to have some pretty scary scenes but still be accessible to younger kids, just like in the amusement park. The movie is rated PG and should appeal to many young kids but it is probably too scary for most children younger than six.
The plot is pretty straightforward with only a couple little twists. The acting by the rest of the cast is good and creepy, with the child actors being believable, but it is the special effects that drive this movie. The ghosts, skeletons, and the house itself being the main attraction. The effects artists were able to bring the house to life.
The film has the feel of an updated Abbot and Costello meet a monster movie with some funny moments interspersed among the scarier ones. There is something there for most people, but the target audience feels like the 8 to 12 year old crowd who should enjoy their first chance to see a “horror” movie.
Who should see the movie? If you liked the theme park attraction, then you should enjoy how the filmmakers have brought it to the screen, and enjoy the back story that I had never heard before. Eddie Murphy fans will also not be disappointed. There is a solid, and somewhat creepy, love story. Plenty of action and a few good scares. If you are looking for a thinking movie though, you will need to look someplace else. Overall, a good movie to go to with your family, if it includes young kids.