It has become a tradition for my brother, my sister and law (even when she wasn’t my sis in law yet) and I to patronize local films yearly especially during the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) where on Christmas day, theaters take a break from foreign films and show purely Pinoy movies in support of the local film industry. Being horror fans, we immediately gravitated towards Haunted Mansion, a Regal Films offering starring young star Janella Salvador, and fellow Kapamilya stars Marlo Mortel and Jerome Ponce.
The film is a typical horror wherein a bunch of kids head off for a retreat in a remote antique mansion owned by one of the school’s board members. Despite the fact that there are already plenty of horror stories surrounding the house, the class continues with retreat, only to find themselves discovering the secret behind the deaths and the tragedy that befell the owners and what horrors still haunt those who become privy to the real story.
Haunted Mansion had a lot going for it. Definitely, it had the support of a major studio to produce a quality mainstream movie. Overall, it had a great set up, great cinematography and good special effects, both practical and CGI. It also had a talented cast of young stars in its roster that makes it marketable for the young viewers.
Where did it go wrong you ask? Well, there were plenty of aspects that tripped up the movie.
First, there was no connection to the initial backstory presented in the beginning of the film. It seemed like it was shot simply to set up the horror aspect of the film , which became lost on the lengthy establishment of Ella’s (Janella Salvador’s) backstory and third eye. Second, there was too much drama in school and at home that it really became tedious to wait for her and her classmates to actually get to the mansion.
Next, it seemed that straight off the bat, adults kept making questionable choices about their young wards — leaving them alone in the middle of the road, asking them to stay for an extra day in a haunted mansion as punishment, letting them out of the house unsupervised and basically just panicking in the face of emergency. It was deplorable and senseless if it was to happen in real life. I am not surprised about the body count at the end of the day.
True, there were creepy moments, but they were not sustained because of all the illogical fake outs that the film wanted to include, perhaps to mislead the audience about who the actual villain is, even when it was so obvious from the beginning.
As a result, the film dragged out until the final 20-30 minutes before the action finally kicked in. When this happened, it became awkward how quickly the characters were dispensed with, which was a shame because they had all the time in the world to create moments in the film to make the deaths more impactful.
Leave us not forget the ending, which may have been an attempt to hold out for a sequel but MADE NO SENSE AT ALL in the overall flow of the story.
All in all, I thought the movie was a huge waste of potential. Storywise, it lacked substance to sustain the momentum of a full feature film. It was a waste of talent because Janella has real charisma and potential for acting but she maintained a single expression throughout the entire film, and this is what the script demanded of her . The supporting cast — Iza Calzado, LJ Reyes, Joem Bascon, Janice de Belen and Domic Ochoa, all seasoned actors fell victim to a shallow script and unoriginal execution, and this is was the most horrific part of the film.
Ceeck out the trailer here: