#SheReviews The Canterville Ghost Movie – Ruth Greening

January 16, 2024

I loved watching the Oscar Wilde animated adventure The Canterville Ghost. It is a masterful story, a film suitable for all ages where being scary is not what it used to be. Wilde could blend humour with social commentary this his witty dialogues and clever characterisation.

Set in the late nineteenth century giving way to the twentieth century at a time when scientific invention brings forth new ways of traversing. 

This entertaining movie is about a haunted house run by its ghost, Sir Simon de Canterville who has been haunting the grounds of England’s Canterville Chase successfully for over three hundred years. He soon discovers the new family have been searching for a real ghost for years and relishes the fact they have found one. I had a laugh when Sir Simon the ghost was scared by the children of the new owners. 


England, late 1800s: Lord Monroe, owner of Canterville Chase, walks through the house during a storm as he gets ready for bed. He starts seeing shadows and hearing noises and a dark figure begins to chase him. Lord Monroe tries to hide from the figure – who is revealed to be the ghost of Sir Simon, but he can’t escape. 

Sir Simon insists Lord Monroe leave his estate as this is his house. Lord Monroe screams and hurls himself at the bedroom window in a vain bid to escape the spectre.

Time passes and Canterville Chase is sold, the housekeeper, Mrs Umney, waits to greet the new family moving in from Boston. He introduces himself as Hiram Otis and each of his family members. His wife Lucretia, teenage daughter Virginia and then year-old twins Louis and Kent. Mr. Otis says the house was purchased at a great price because of a superstition that the house is haunted, to which Mrs. Umney tells him it is haunted. None of the family seems bothered by this they are hoping there will be a real ghost living there. 

In the Great Hall, Mr. Otis informs Mrs. Umney that he’s planning a grand banquet for members of the Royal Society to showcase the new American electricity. Virginia passes a large oil painting of Sir Simon…. a voice calls out to her from the painting, drawing her towards it but is broken when Lucretia distracts her. When Virginia looks back at the painting, Sir Simon’s position has changed – he is staring directly at her. Mrs. Umney shows the family the library and Virginia finds a book on the floor titled A History of Canterville Chase. She puts it on the bookshelf but it falls back to the floor. It doesn’t take long until Virgina soon meets up with the ghost Sir Simon. His attempts to scare Virgina and her family fail. 

In the meanwhile when Virginia is out horse-riding she runs into Sir Henry Cheshire, who almost runs his horse over a cliff until Virginia saves him. They introduce themselves to each other and Henry reveals he is a Duke. 

Virginia tells him she lives in Canterville and Henry tells her his family would not approve of him visiting there, but he does it anyway. They explore the Canterville grounds and stumble upon the walled garden. There is a Gardener—really the Grim Reaper—trimming some  roses and he makes a threatening gesture toward Virginia.

Virginia discovers that Sir Simon can’t leave the Canterville property due to the curse. Virginia promises to help Sir Simon lift the curse. After a number of events finally Henry rides to Canterville on his horse to declare his love to Virginia, but finds the Otis family gathered around Virginia’s body outside the walled garden.

Meanwhile, inside the garden, Sir Simon and Virginia confront the Grim Reaper. Virginia asks his permission to free Sir Simon and he gives it, but says Virginia can’t leave the garden. A fight ensues and the Grim Reaper shapeshifts between a Swordsman and then a huge Mephisto Monster.  Henry, who has also read the prophecy text on the plaque outside the garden, drops dead, joins the fray and together, with Virginia and Sir Simon, they beat back the monster.


Stephen Fry (Sir Simon De4 Canterville), Hugh Laurie (Grim Reaper), Freddie Highmore (Duke Henry Cheshire), Emily Carey (Virginia Otis), David Harewood (Hiram Otis), Meera Stak (Kycretua Otis), Miranda Hart (Algernena Van Finchley aka The Ghost Hunter), Toby Jones (The Reverend Chasuble), Imelda Staunton (Mrs. Umney) 


Producers: Robert Chandler, Gina Carter,  Director: Kim Burdon, Co-Director: Robert Chandler, Writers: Keiron Self, Giles New, Oscar Wilde, Composers: Eimear Noone, Craig Stuart Garfinkle, Art Directors: Kim Burdon, Anil Kumar Sr, Editor: Ronnie Quinlan

In cinemas now, released nationally through Rialto Distribution

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