Review of 'Haunted Mansion'

haunted_mansion.jpg Based on the Disney theme park ride of the same name, “Haunted Mansion” sees widowed doctor Gabbie (Rosario Dawson) and her son Travis (Chase Dillon) move from New York in an attempt to convert an abandoned house into a B&B only to learn it is haunted by a variety of ghosts. Disgraced astrophysicist Ben Matthias (LaKeith Stanfield) has come up with a camera that priest, and would-be exorcist, Father Kent (Owen Wilson) believes will be able to take pictures of the ghosts. While this has some degree of success Ben and Kent steal the blueprints to the house from haunted house historian Bruce Davis (Danny DeVito) and bring in a slightly dubious medium Harriet (Tiffany Haddish) to talk to the ghosts who manages to contact former mansion owner William Gracey (J.R. Adduci) who insists they talk to legendary medium Madame Leota (Jamie Lee Curtis). They eventually find Leota who has been imprisoned in a crystal ball in the attic. Then, things get silly…

Yeah, the plot is a bit confusing but it is all a bit fun with wildly over-the-top ghosts. I am surprised that this appears to be pitched at a general audience as some of the sequences are generally quite frightening and/or horrific for younger viewers but, as you might expect, it all looks great and manages to capture some of the fun of the Disneyland ride (full disclosure: I have never been on the ride but I have seen documentaries on it so am reasonably familiar with what it involves). It is all quite Disney so does not quite have the grittiness of many horror films, all in the name of fun and silliness. The story is a bit convoluted but that is not really the point here, that is only a medium (pun intended) for more silly and ridiculous things that follow.

The cast has a few well known faces notably including Owen Wilson who plays quite a bit role here and Danny Devito as a rather quirky ghost hunter. It was also a surprise to see Jamie Lee Curtis as the medium Madame Leota, looking quite old here. Chase Dillon is great as the young boy caught in the middle of all the mayhem – the only one who seems to be grounded in reality while all others run round in circles as they attempt to rid themselves of the ghosts.

Looks great and a lot of fun. Probably will not be the basis of a huge film franchise as (ride) “Pirates of the Caribbean” was but a fun watch nonetheless.

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2024-01-14

Directed by: Justin Simien

Studio: Walt Disney Productions

Year: 2023

Length: 123 minutes

Genre: Melodrama