The Canterville Ghost (2023)

In the late 1800s, there’s a wild storm during the night right at bedtime for Lord Monroe (Bill Lobley), the proud owner of a stunningly large manor house in Canterville Chase, England. However, before going to bed with his teddy bear, Lord Monroe encounters something strange, scary, and unexplainable. A ghost scares him and speaks in a firm, clear voice, demanding that Lord Monroe leave the house immediately. Lord Monroe dashes into his bedroom, trying to escape, but sadly, he is unsuccessful.

Next, we are introduced to the Otis family, who are moving into their new home, the Canterville Chase Manor, which they purchased at a bargain price due to multiple claims that the house is haunted. They are even given a note informing them that the past owner, Lord Monroe, is now living in an asylum and hasn’t stopped screaming since his haunting encounter. Throughout history, every owner of the Canterville Manor has encountered a ghost at some point, rumoured to be named Sir Simon de Canterville (Stephen Fry). Hiram (David Harewood), the family’s father, is determined that no ghost will scare him or his family away.

Naturally, Virginia (Emily Carey), his daughter, is not pleased about moving into the new home and soon encounters the ghost of Sir Simon de Canterville lurking around the house. At first, Virginia is a little scared but quickly overcomes her fears and stands up to him, declaring he’s not that scary. Virginia encourages the ghost to scare her family, hoping they’ll pack up and leave, which also doesn’t go to plan, as the Otis family are, in fact, unafraid. Virginia makes several discoveries as she spends time in her new home and learns more about the new ghostly presence. Legend and rumour have it that Simon de Canterville may have murdered his wife. Virginia is determined to find the truth about the home and the dark rumours surrounding Simon de Canterville.

The Canterville Ghost is a fantasy with comedic elements. While the film is aimed more at families, given the animation style, some younger audiences may find this film scary due to the ghostly presence of Simon de Canterville. For those unaware, The Canterville Ghost is based on a comedic and satirical novella, The Canterville Ghost, published in 1887 and written by Oscar Wilde.

I admired some animation details, including the general look of Simon de Canterville and the Canterville Chase manor, which looks stunning. However, I can’t deny that overall, the animation looks cheap, and I found it disappointing. Most of the animation lacks depth and looks dull, and many side characters lack detail, particularly in facial expressions. The voice work; however, is impressive, with characters voiced by Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Emily Carey, and Miranda Hart as an energetic and passionate ghost catcher.

Pacing-wise, there’s a strong set-up and a good introduction to the manor, the ghost Sir Simon de Canterville, and the Otis family. I enjoyed seeing this family handle the ghostly presence differently to previous owners. However, once Virginia begins an unlikely new friendship with Simon de Canterville, the film goes in a different direction, focused on redeeming the ghostly presence. In an attempt to make the ghost more harmless and fun, the fact that he’s been cruel and heartless to many for over three hundred years, with his haunting tactics leaving one in an asylum screaming, is ignored and has no consequences.  On top of this, Virginia also strikes up a love interest with a Duke named Henry (Freddie Highmore), who I found relatively annoying as a character as he would often make odd comments. Most of the film feels slow, and it is uninteresting with a climax that carries some form of reveal and heart, but again, it goes far longer than necessary. The comedy here also didn’t work for me. As a parent and family man, some attempted gags only raised my eyebrows. One example is when an older man falls over and yells, “Ouch, my coccyx.” This may elicit tiny giggles from younger audiences, but these gags feel lazy and poorly written.

Overall, while I’m confident the short story from Oscar Wilde would be enlightening and fun, this animated film version is less than enthralling. While some animation elements are outstanding, including the creepy ghost known as Sir Simon de Canterville and the manor of Canterville Chase, the remainder of the film looks cheap, dull, and bland. The opening is grand, introducing a creepy concept and a fun mystery before the story takes a turn for the worse and becomes drawn out with an uninteresting romance. The ghost who has tormented many innocents for three hundred years is soon redeemed, and there are no consequences for his past wrongdoings. As a parent myself, the gags are eye-rolling enough to get a headache, but younger audiences may express minor moments of laughter. The film’s most significant redeeming quality is, in fact, its voice cast, but as impressive as they are, it’s still a baffling and over-drawn-out fantasy film to witness. 

The Canterville Ghost (2023) will be available in Australian Cinemas starting January 11th.

3.5/10

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

9th January 2024
Written by Peter Walkden

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In 1959, two men arrive by plane from Honolulu to visit Richard ‘King’ Howland (Charlton Heston). After repeatedly asking him the same question, they are seeking a final answer this time- will King accept the honour of running for senator for Hawaii? Once again,...

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead (2003)

Davey (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) enjoys the life of a small-time drug dealer. He often indulges in the party scene, including random hookups and occasional minor theft. One evening, as Davey is walking home, he is stalked by a mysterious man who is displeased with Davey's...

Road House (2024)

Dalton (Jake Gyllenhaal) is an ex-UFC fighter with a tragic past. With little money to his name, Dalton spends his days earning cash fighting in underground clubs. Given Dalton's reputation, most times, he walks in for a fight, and the opponent refuses to fight him,...

The Nut Farm (2024)

In the Australian town of Cobweb, an older man uses a sound detection device in the bush. With this tool, he discovers a group of people secretly living underground. The man is taken captive, and the scene then shifts to San Francisco in the United States. Brendan...

Ricky Stanicky (2024)

The story follows three best friends, Dean (Zac Efron), JT (Andrew Santino), and Wes (Jermaine Fowler), who have known each other since they were young kids. In the present day, the trio are still close friends, but they also share a dark secret. When they were young,...

The Mist (2007)

In a small town, David Drayton (Thomas Jane) is an artist who paints movie-related posters. A horrific storm begins one night, and the following day, he and his family investigate the aftermath. The storm has caused extensive damage; large trees have been uprooted,...

Road House (1989)

Dalton, played by Patrick Swayze, is a highly skilled bouncer. He prefers to handle any trouble professionally and quietly, but sometimes, he must use his fists and kicks to defend himself. One night, Dalton gets into a fight in a club and ends up getting wounded by a...

Cabrini (2024)

In Italy, in 1889, Francesca Cabrini (Cristiana Dell'Anna) is a nun in the Roman Catholic Church. Cabrini is passionate about helping young children who live in poverty and roam the streets. Her dream is to start building a network of orphanages in Lombardy....

The Great Escaper (2023)

Set in the year 2014, Bernard (Michael Caine) is a World War II veteran who spends his days living in an aged care home with his wife Irene (Glenda Jackson). As the anniversary of D-Day approaches, Bernard attempts to book in to attend the D-Day commemorations in...

How to Have Sex (2023)

Three teenage girls, Tara (Mia McKenna-Bruce), Em (Enva Lewis) & Skye (Lara Peake), are travelling on a holiday in Malia, Greece. The close friends hope to have a wild and fun time, spending their time being loud, drinking heavily, visiting various clubs, meeting...

Desperation Road (2023)

Maben (Willa Fitzgerald) is currently doing everything she can to get by and survive while attempting to be a good mother to a young daughter. With no home or money to their name, the pair often move around from one place to the next. One evening, Maben is approached...

History of Evil (2024)

In the future, many things have changed. Firstly, corruption plagues America, and local police now enforce a religious government. Those who refuse to submit to religious law enforcement are known as ‘The Resistance’. One member of the Resistance is Alegre Dyer...

You’ll Never Find Me (2023)

In a mobile home in a caravan park, Patrick (Brendan Rock) sits alone by his dining table while a wild storm rages outside. Soon, a loud knock at the door startles Patrick. Upon opening the door, he finds a woman (Jordan Cowan) begging for help and seeking shelter...

Interview: Cast & Director of Combat Wombat: Back 2 Back (2023)

Walkden Entertainment (aka Peter Walkden) had the honour and pleasure of chatting with Director Ricard Cussó, along with lead actors David Wenham, Ed Oxenbould, Grant Denyer & Elizabeth Cullen, during the Queensland premiere of Combat Wombat: Back 2 Back (2023) at...

Combat Wombat: Back 2 Back (2023)

Several months have passed since Sanctuary City was introduced to Maggie, aka Combat Wombat (Deborah Mailman), and her sidekick Sweetie (Ed Oxenbould). Thanks to the latest technology developed by tech genius Lenny (David Wenham), the people within the city can now...

Weekend at Bernie’s (1989)

Two best friends, Larry (Andrew McCarthy) and Richard (Jonathan Silverman), work at an insurance company and are doing everything possible to receive a promotion. Each day, they dream of earning more money and living a life of luxury, even more so when they see their...

The Mountain (1956)

When a large plane crashes just below the summit of Bald Mountain, rescue parties are formed to climb to the disaster. The aircraft was on a routine flight from Calcutta to Paris when something unexpected caused the flight to crash. Each moment means less possibility...

This Is Me…Now: A Love Story (2024)

Prepare yourself for a one-of-a-kind journey that you won't experience anywhere else as you join Jennifer Lopez, a renowned celebrity artist and actress. Through song, dance, story and spectacular picture, she takes you on a tour of her mind, heart, and soul, guiding...

Subtraction (2022)

Farzaneh (Taraneh Alidoosti) is a driving instructor. During a lesson where she tries to teach someone who is completely ignorant and careless about basic driving rules, she sees something unusual far away outside the car window. From a distance, she can see her...

Inspector Sun and the Curse of the Black Widow (2022)

The film is set in Shanghai in 1934 and follows the story of Inspector Sun (played by Ronny Chieng), a brilliant and confident huntsman spider. Inspector Sun is known for working alone, and when we meet him, he has been tasked with solving the ultimate unsolved case -...

Riceboy Sleeps (2022)

Found on a cold winter’s evening as a baby wrapped in a blanket, no one knew where So-young was from. As she grew up, she bounced around from one orphanage to the next before packing her bags when she got older and leaving to live in a big city. So-young hoped for...

Interview: Mark Leonard Winter / The Rooster (2023)

Walkden Entertainment (aka Peter Walkden) had the honour and pleasure of chatting with Mark Leonard Winter, director and writer of The Rooster (2023), which is Available in Australian Cinemas from February 22nd. When the body of his oldest friend is found buried in a...

The Rooster (2023)

Dan (Phoenix Raei) is a police officer working within a small community. Life presents many challenges and struggles for Dan, and he finds himself walking around in what feels like a real-life nightmare. Pushing him even further over the edge is the discovery of a...

The Jester (2023)

One evening, a man named John (Matt Servitto) walks around alone in a small community. While walking, it's evident that something, or perhaps someone, is following him from a distance. John also appears to have strange and unexplainable visions of a little girl. The...

Dario Argento Panico (2023)

Introducing a documentary focused on the well-known horror director, writer, producer, actor, and composer Dario Argento. Today, many public figures would say Dario is like a painter or a musician in the film style. Dario's films have always featured fantastic camera...

May December (2023)

Elizabeth (Natalie Portman) is an actress working on her newest film. To prepare for her upcoming leading role, Elizabeth has the opportunity to study the real person she will be portraying, a woman named Gracie (Julianne Moore). It's been over twenty years since...

Birth/Rebirth (2023)

Celie (Judy Reyes) is a single mother who works full-time as a nurse. At the same hospital is Dr. Rose Casper (Marin Ireland), a morgue technician who is working in the field of pathology. Even though they work at the same hospital, Celie and Dr. Rose Casper are...

Interview: Simon Emmett / Welcome to the Darkness (2023)

Walkden Entertainment (aka Peter Walkden) had the honour and pleasure of chatting with Simon Emmett, director of Welcome to the Darkness (2023), available on Digital from January 24th, thanks to Lightbulb Film Distribution. Have you been a long-term fan of The...

Anatomy of a Fall (2023)

Over the last year, a family of three consisting of Samuel (Samuel Theis), Sandra (Sandra Hüller), and their vision-impaired son, Daniel (Milo Machado Graner), have been living in an isolated location in the mountains. The film opens with Sandra attempting to share a...

Interview: Josh Forbes / Destroy All Neighbors (2024)

Walkden Entertainment (aka Peter Walkden) enjoyed chatting with Josh Forbes, director of Destroy All Neighbors (2024), Now Available Exclusively on Shudder. How did you become connected with Destroy All Neighbors, and what was the biggest attraction to working on...

Welcome to the Darkness (2023)

It's incredible to think of it now, but in 2002, The Darkness was an unsigned band. By 2004, its key members- Justin Hawkins, his brother Dan Hawkins, Frankie Poullain and the original drummer Ed Graham- had sold over a million records. But in 2006, something...

The Iron Claw (2023)

Based on a true story set in the early 1980s, The Iron Claw follows the Von Erich brothers and their journey within the world of professional wrestling. Firstly, we are taken back in time to glimpse wrestling icon Fritz Von Erich (Holt McCallany), delivering a final...

The Jungle Bunch: World Tour (2023)

The Jungle Bunch is a group of animals who, when called upon, will help and save the day. Whether it's another animal in need of urgent help or an area in the jungle that requires their attention, their goal and desire is to help maintain peace and harmony. When one...

Career Opportunities (1991)

Jim (Frank Whaley) isn't the brightest bloke in the community. He struggles to hold a job, still lives with his parents, continually lies to everyone around him, and has failed to discover his true purpose as an adult. When Jim loses his job at an animal shelter, his...