The Ghosts of Manet Mansion
Nora Roberts' "Midnight Bayou" is nothing more than a grown up version of a children's movie, a ghost story. Think about it as there is a tradition of movies such as "The Ghost of Greville Lodge" where a young child goes to live in an old house and becomes aware of its secret past thanks to visions of that past. The only difference between "Midnight Bayou" and one of those children's movies is it is more grown up with a touch more horror, romance and basically it is sexier. Does that make it any good? Well "Midnight Bayou" is okay with a very commercial style, good music, good look, appealing actors and a quickness to it which means you are never left to dwell on things for too long but it doesn't have much beyond what is upfront.
8 years earlier having been out with friends celebrating Mardi Gras Declan Fitzpatrick (Jerry O'Connell - Man About Town) first thinks he sees a woman in the road and then next sees the abandoned Manet mansion which when he squeezes through the gates to investigate spooks him out. Back to the present and Declan is now a successful lawyer who has brought the mansion which brings him into contact with the sexy Lena Simone (Lauren Stamile) and her grandmother Odette (Faye Dunaway - Cougar Club) whose ancestors once lived there. Whilst Declan is infatuated by the attractive Lena he also has to contend with strange visions which take him into the past of the mansion where he learns of affairs and murders which relate to the present.
So as I said "Midnight Bayou" is just a grown up take on a traditional ghost story movie which whilst opening with a ghostly scene only really starts when Declan buys the old mansion and the visions start. Now being grown up means that the secrets of the mansion are darker with murder and betrayal and so on but it also means we have some sexy looking romance. But whilst these things are nicely worked from the atmosphere generated from the visions to Lena protecting herself from abandonment after her druggie mother abandoned her there isn't a great deal which is any different to what you will see in a ton of other movies be it the visions to the steamy moments between Declan and Lena.
What this ends up meaning is that "Midnight Bayou" becomes a movie which whilst keeping you interested by the reasonable storyline is more about the look and style. And from a visual sense it looks good, well in a commercially pleasing sort of way with nice use of sunlight and so on to create a vibrant but sexy atmosphere. Combine the look with the frequent speedy sound track and it makes for a vibrant production.
Plus there are the actors which in truth whilst doing a good job add to the look. Jerry O'Connell whilst over the top in those opening scenes does the sexy lawyer thing nicely whilst Faye Dunaway looks just wild enough as someone who is a bit eccentric. But it is Lauren Stamile who steals the movie because she looks stunning from start to finish as she oozes sex appeal in pretty much every scene.
What this all boils down to is that "Midnight Bayou" has an appealing look and a snappy style as well as good looking stars. But dig beneath the surface and it is just a grown up, sexy ghost story.