Enjoyable if somewhat straightforward, THE CANTERVILLE GHOST updates Oscar Wilde's story and gives its star an opportunity to ham it up.
Teenaged Ginny (Neve Campbell) unhappily accompanies her family on an extended trip to England. Upon arriving, they settle in at Canterville Hall, a sprawling old manor. Over their first few nights, various eerie events occur. A ghost (Patrick Stewart) appears to Ginny and her brothers, though her
parents cannot see him. Her father (Edward Wiley) blames Ginny for playing practical jokes and threatens to send her home. Ginny meanwhile meets Francis (Daniel Betts), a young duke, and begins to fall in love with him. Together they attempt to convince her father that the ghost exists.
Finding a hidden doorway, Ginny makes her way to the ghost's chamber. There she learns that he is the ghost of Sir Simon Canterville, who four centuries earlier was accused of murdering his wife. Sir Simon agrees to Ginny's plan of using a scene from Shakespeare's "Hamlet" to convince her father,
as Simon claims to be the inspiration for the ghost of Hamlet's father. While doing the scene, however, Simon is overcome and disappears.
He later tells Ginny that he drove his wife to suicide while in a jealous rage. She can help his soul to rest by accompanying him to the realm of darkness and pleading for his freedom. After Ginny disappears with him, her family searches for her and her father becomes convinced that supernatural
forces exist. They are able to pull Ginny back to the real world and together they find Simon's bones, which they inter next to his wife. Simon is thus able to rest happily and Ginny's family decides to remain in England.
The best reason for seeing THE CANTERVILLE GHOST is Stewart's performance. Clearly enjoying himself, he relishes the opportunity to frighten children, spout Shakespeare, and moon over his lost love. Among the other actors, Campbell and Betts convincingly portray teenage affection and Wiley is an
obstinate but caring father.
Care was obviously taken in showing Canterville Hall and the surrounding countryside realistically. The script, while a bit cliched and predictable, successfully updates and expands Wilde's short story. The only other flaw is the film's low-rent special effects which clumsily show, for example,
Stewart walking through a door. Otherwise, THE CANTERVILLE GHOST is enjoyable family fare.
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- Released: 1996
- Rating: NR
- Review: Enjoyable if somewhat straightforward, THE CANTERVILLE GHOST updates Oscar Wilde's story and gives its star an opportunity to ham it up. Teenaged Ginny (Neve Campbell) unhappily accompanies her family on an extended trip to England. Upon arriving, they se… (more)