The Haunted Mansion is a 2003 American horror fantasy comedy film based on the attraction of the same name at Disney theme parks. The film was directed by Rob Minkoff, written by David Berenbaum and stars Eddie Murphy, Terence Stamp, Nathaniel Parker, Marsha Thomason, and Jennifer Tilly. It was released on November 26, 2003 and is Disney's fourth film based on an attraction at one of its theme parks, following the television film Tower of Terror (1997), The Country Bears (2002), and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003).

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Jim Evers is a workaholic real estate agent whose continuous pursuit for new deals leaves very little time with his family. He misses his wedding anniversary with his wife Sara, but to make amends, suggesting going on vacation to a nearby lake. Beforehand, Sara is contacted by the occupants of Gracey Manor, located in the Louisiana bayou. Eager to make a deal, Jim drags Sara and his children Megan and Michael to the mansion. They meet its owner Edward Gracey, his stern butler Ramsley, and other staff members Emma and Ezra. When a storm floods the nearby river, Gracey allows the Evers to stay the night, though everyone save Jim is unhappy with the idea. Ramsley takes Jim down to the library to have a talk with Gracey, but while he waits, Jim gets trapped in a secret passage.

Megan and Michael encounter a spectral orb and follow it up to the attic, where they find a portrait of a woman resembling Sara. Sara talks with Gracey in the library, who explains his grandfather hanged himself after his lover Elizabeth Henshaw poisoned herself despite their plans to wed. Jim meets Madame Leota, a gypsy woman’s ghost whose head is encased in a crystal ball, but she scares him away. Jim runs into his children, Emma, and Ezra, and returns to Madame Leota for answers about Elizabeth’s likeness to Sara. It is revealed everyone in the mansion are ghosts, cursed a century ago by Gracey and Elizabeth’s suicides and can only go to the afterlife when they are reunited, and Gracey believes Sara is his lover back from the dead. Madame Leota sends the Evers off to the mansion’s expansive cemetery to find a key that will reveal the truth behind Elizabeth’s unusual death. Jim and Megan venture into a crypt where they find the key, but disturb its undead residents. They escape with help from Michael. Madame Leota then instructs them to find a trunk in the attic, Jim unlocking it to find a letter written by Elizabeth to Gracey, revealing she wanted to marry, leading them to conclude that she was murdered. Ramsley suddenly appears, revealing he poisoned Elizabeth to prevent Gracey from abandoning his heritage. To hide the truth, he traps the children in a trunk and throws Jim out of the house, enchanting the house so Jim cannot break in.

Gracey and Sara enter the ballroom. He asks Sara if she can recognize him which confuses her. Desperate, he insists to Sara that she is his beloved Elizabeth from long ago. The room fills with ballroom dancing ghosts of the past which causes Sara to flee from the room. As she runs up the stairs Gracey reveals his true ghost self to Sara begging her to understand and that she really is Elizabeth and that they can finally be together. She shouts that she is not Elizabeth and slams the door in his face. Gracey begins to believe that Sarah can't be Elizabeth because she doesn't remember him. But Ramsley insists that it is her and that in time she will remember. Ramsley tells Sara to get ready for her wedding to Gracey. Sarah refuses but Ramsley blackmails her into marrying Gracey in return for her children’s safety. Encouraged by Madame Leota, Jim drives his car through the mansion’s conservatory, rescues his children, and stops Sara and Gracey’s wedding ceremony where he gives Elizabeth’s real letter to Gracey. Gracey confronts Ramsley, who rages at his master’s apparent selfishness for loving Elizabeth, and summons wraiths to kill the group for revenge. However, a fiery dragon emerges from the ballroom fireplace and drags Ramsley down to hell for eternal damnation for his crimes. Sara suddenly collapses, having been poisoned by Ramsley during the wedding, only for the spectral orb encountered by the children to appear and possess Sara, revealed to be Elizabeth’s ghost. Elizabeth and Gracey reunite, and Sara is revived. With the curse lifted, Gracey gives the Evers the mansion’s deed and departs to the afterlife with Elizabeth, Emma, Ezra, and the other ghosts.

The Evers head off on a proper vacation, accompanied by Madame Leota, and four singing busts strapped to the back of their car. In a post-credits scene, Madame Leota bids farewell to the audience, inviting them to join the dead using dialogue from the Disneyland attraction.

Cast[edit | edit source]

  • Eddie Murphy as Jim Evers, a workaholic real estate agent who is often late for family gatherings, but tries his best to make up for it.
  • Terence Stamp as Ramsley, the mysterious butler of Gracey Manor who serves as a fatherly figure to Master Gracey.
  • Nathaniel Parker as Master Edward Gracey, the owner of Gracey Manor. He is a polite and friendly man, who longs for his lost love Elizabeth to return to him after her apparent suicide.
  • Marsha Thomason as Sara Evers, Jim's supporting wife.
    • Marsha Thomason also portrays Elizabeth Henshaw, Master Gracey's long-lost lover.
  • Jennifer Tilly as Madame Leota, a gypsy woman whose spirit is encased in a crystal ball as a head shrouded by green mist. She speaks in cryptic riddles.
  • Wallace Shawn as Ezra, a ghost of a bumbling footman who worries about getting into trouble.
  • Dina Waters as Emma, a ghost of a nervous but helpful maid who seems terrified of Ramsley.
  • Marc John Jefferies as Michael Evers, Jim and Sara's 10-year-old son who is very arachnophobic.
  • Aree Davis as Megan Evers, Jim and Sara's 13-year-old daughter who is impatient and stroppy.
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