Review – The Canterville Ghost

It’s somewhat rare today to find a story that has been done time and time again for different generations, let alone somehow re-imagining itself for each generational iteration. Oscar Wilde’s 1887 short story, The Canterville Ghost has been made into movies both animated and live action. It’s enjoyed time as a radio drama with appearances on TV and even an opera. Now thanks to directors Kim Burdon, Robert Chandler and a stellar voice cast we have a new entry into this generation spanning story.

It’s the end of the 1800’s and wealthy Bostonians Hiram and Lucretia Otis descend upon a quaint but stately English estate known as Canterville Chase. Having picked it up at a steal due to past owners fleeing, the Otis family is planning on bringing the future to their corner of the English countryside. Unfazed by the haunting stories of ghosts roaming the halls of their new home the Otis’s are joined by their twins Louis and Kent, a pair of spirited young lads out for adventure and mischief despite the chaos they leave in their wake and their teen daughter Virginia, your quintessential teen brimming with angst and broody for the life left behind.

The core of our Canterville story centres around Sir Simon de Canterville, the spirit forced to roam the halls of Canterville Chase trying his best to scare away any would-be tenants. His world quickly turns on its head as laughter fills the once dreary halls and his attempts at continuing the run of scared previous owners is thwarted by the Otis’s. Virginia, filled with intrigue, is the only one who is willing to look into the haunted history of Sir Simon by befriending him. As their friendship deepens so does the story quickly drawing you deeper into the tale with layers of depth to provide parents with an engaging story accompanied by smart and humorous additions to the story to keep kids entertained and engaged.   

The voice acting has brought some of the best British actors together to showcase their talents. David Harewood and Meera Syal bring Hiram and Lucretia to life, filling the characters with a certain bravado to be expected of Americans trying to fit into English life. Emily Carey voices the teenage Virginia, unfazed by her new surroundings and trying to find her place as she not only yearns for the life left behind but also with a hint of wonder. Jakey Schiff and Bennet Miller round out the Otis family as the two boys’ hell bent on just having fun. Yet the spotlight is stolen by the one and only Stephen Fry as the titular character Sir Simon. Fry’s customary dry wit is perfect for Sir Simon as he struggles to come to terms with this new world at his doorstep and the deep dark history he must uncover.

The one place that lets The Canterville Ghost down is the animation style. While we have been spoiled with animation styles for some time now The Canterville Ghost feels more akin to the early 2000s. Not to say it is bad as it still uses the medium well, shifting from 2D to showcase memory moments before back to 3D, it does feel a little rough.

The Canterville Ghost is a perfect family movie as all ages will pick up different parts of the story to experience. While the animation doesn’t shine it embraces the original source material and adds a few chills, plenty of laughs and some tender moments. It’s a story that has been done before and will no doubt be done again but has once again showcased that a classic story can be retold to new generations in clever and insightful ways. 

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It’s somewhat rare today to find a story that has been done time and time again for different generations, let alone somehow re-imagining itself for each generational iteration. Oscar Wilde’s 1887 short story, The Canterville Ghost has been made into movies both animated and...Review - The Canterville Ghost