High Spirits

A surprisingly disjointed movie from one of the most promising directors in the UK (Neil Jordan), whose previous work had shown him to be a filmmaker with an impressive grasp of the medium--and one who refuses to be pegged. With HIGH SPIRITS, Jordan has again shifted gears and attempted an old-fashioned haunted-house comedy-romance along the lines of THE...read more

Rating:

A surprisingly disjointed movie from one of the most promising directors in the UK (Neil Jordan), whose previous work had shown him to be a filmmaker with an impressive grasp of the medium--and one who refuses to be pegged. With HIGH SPIRITS, Jordan has again shifted gears and attempted an

old-fashioned haunted-house comedy-romance along the lines of THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR (1942) or THE CANTERVILLE GHOST (1944). The attempt is admirable, but the execution is noticeably sloppy--perhaps in part due to some last-minute tampering by the studio.

Peter Plunkett (Peter O'Toole) inherits the ancient Castle Plunkett--a huge, spooky, drafty, leaky Irish castle suffering from the post-war impoverishment of its late owners. In a last-ditch effort to save his home, he decides to capitalize on rumors that the castle is haunted. He concocts a sort

of real-life version of Disneyland's haunted mansion, taking out ads to lure gullible American tourists as guests. Little does Plunkett know that his castle really is haunted--by the ghosts of his ancestor (Daryl Hannah) and her husband (Liam Neeson)--who reenact their horrible deaths nightly. The

trouble really begins, however, when one of the American tourists (Steve Guttenberg) witnesses the apparitions and falls in love with the ghostly Hannah. Although enough of HIGH SPIRITS succeeds to keep the film watchable, its jerky construction, haphazard humor, and missed opportunities work

against it throughout. Despite considerable production support and a relatively high budget (it was shot on location in Ireland and on a massive interior set at England's famed Shepperton studios), this is easily the weakest effort in director-screenwriter Jordan's solid career.

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