Our chicken-heartedness was justified. The movie is the manifestation of everyone's deepest, darkest fears, everyone's worst nightmares. It really makes you scream and holler - out of sheer frustration from watching it, from being the only one who can't leave the theatre halfway through, from trying to yank your arm from its socket just so you could have something to throw at the screen.
The Haunted Mansion has a lot of actors, but somebody probably forgot to say 'ACTION' before the cameras started rolling. You'd think all of them were playing dead with all the acting that went on.
Eddie Murphy, as the obsessed-with-work real-estate agent, Jim Evers, is prosaic, and that's the best compliment you can give him. But he raised some profound questions like, how important is it to squash your own spider? At fullhyd, we don't squash spiders. We share our space with spiders, lizards, roaches and our boss.
His two children, Megan (Aree Davis) and Michael (Marc Jefferies) are achievers that we need to talk about. Their singular achievement being that they were completely nonplussed about being in a movie. In fact, they were so unfazed that they didn't even bother to act. Together with mum Sara Evers (Thomason), they form the quartet that finds itself at the Disney-inspired haunted mansion.
It is here that you learn some elementary lessons. First, you learn that if someone looks ghostly white and well... dead, then he probably is. And then you learn that there are worse things than being dead. Having badly straightened hair, for instance. Emma Thomason learns that the hard way.
And the third lesson you learn is the most important - if you look like Eddie Murphy yet get to get jiggy with someone who looks like Thomason, then there just has to be a catch somewhere. But, we'd love to know your secret.
The catch here is that the owner of the haunted mansion, Master Gracey (Nathaniel Parker), apart from being dead believes that Sara is the reincarnation of his (also) dead love Elizabeth. But he isn't the bad guy. No siree bob! That credit goes to the (also dead) Butler, Ramsley (Terence Stamp).
The dead guys are the pick of the actors. Each time they fail to show appropriate feeling, you know it is the rigor mortis. The movie indulges every cliché. Right down to a la Star-Trek-energize ending when the portals of the passage of transition (predictably) open up.
The movie is neither scary nor funny. Even Eddie Murphy does not seem inspired enough. But you might risk this one if you are six years old. A day older, and you will question why you ventured to watch a movie that released in India close to a year after it released elsewhere.