There’s no question that there is definitely a sizable market for fans who want to enjoy horror movies for Christmas. The Shake, Rattle and Roll
series lasted for 15 years and each year’s batch of MMFF
entries has at least two in their lineup. Opting to lay to rest their popular trilogy franchise for now, Regal Films churned out this year’s horror fest Haunted Mansion with a new batch of young lead stars in their first major film project.
Janella Salvador plays a simple high school girl named Ella who hangs out with best friend (Sharlene San Pedro) and secret admirer (Marlo Mortel). Ella does her best to help her mom take care of her two younger siblings after her father mysteriously passes away. In school she has a crush on her classmate Jacob (Jerome Ponce) who hangs out with the popular crowd who is always mean to Ella. Janella plays her role with enough sensitivity and restraint to make her a relatable and likable character, but it is Sharlene San Pedro who shines at the first part of the film because her character has all the punch lines which will guarantee the most laughs in the film.
Haunted Mansion starts out like any teenybopper film with class scenes and family problems that most young people in the audience can relate to. But it takes a dark turn when Ella’s batch has to stay in an old mansion out-of-town which is rumored to be haunted. Janice de Belen and Dominic Ochoa play minimal roles as part of the retreat staff which underutilizes their acting abilities. Iza Calzado and LJ Reyes play sisters with a dark past who once inhabited the mansion. The mystery of their deaths will be the basis of everything dark that starts happening to Ella and her friends as the story goes along.
In a nutshell, Haunted Mansion does not disappoint. What it lacks in story arcs (as compared to a trilogy with three separate casts), it tries to make up for with an engaging story about normal high school kids faced with the most horrifying trip of their lives. Shake, Rattle, and Roll fans are sure to get their fill of screams, laughs, terror, and gore in this two-hour film.