Wednesday, August 2, 2023

“Grim Grinning Ghosts” Go to the Movies: Haunted Mansion Review (No Spoilers!)

Everyone loves a good deal, and at our local theater delivers on Tuesdays. You can treat yourself to any movie for just $7 a person. In my case, it was the perfect reason to take my siblings to go see the brand new Haunted Mansion movie. 

Disney’s Haunted Mansion, based off of, you guessed it, the ride at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, follows Ben Mathias (LaKeith Stanfield), an astrophysicist, as he and Father Kent (Owen Wilson) assemble a ragtag team to thwart spirits that haunt the home of a mother, Gabbie (Rosario Dawson) and her son, Travis (Chase Dillion). Also in the movie are Tiffany Haddish, who plays Harriet, Danny Devito, who plays Professor Bruce Davis, Jamie Lee Curtis as Madame Leota, or “The Floating Head”, and Jared Leto, who plays the Hatchbox Ghost. It is rated PG-13, but easily could’ve gotten a PG tag.

Disney's Haunted Mansion Official Theatrical Poster

I’ll cut straight to the point; this is probably the most average movie going experience I’ve ever experienced. I never once laughed out loud but I also never rolled my eyes. I could tell you the characters' names (it really does feel like there are only six people in this movie), but I couldn’t really tell you what happened fifteen minutes after leaving the theater. That’s why this is a spoiler free review! 

With that said, if you have any experience with the Haunted Mansion at Magic Kingdom, you will love all of the references to the ride. They are everywhere in this movie, and very well done. To give an example, the stretching hallways fit perfectly with the sense of dread they build in the audience and our characters. Seeing Ben try to flee from ghosts only for the hallway to grow and grow added some character to the mansion itself, along with the ghosts inhabiting it. Even my siblings would see things they recognized from the ride and get a kick out of it. I’m sure only people who are familiar with the ride are seeing this, but that is paid off in the two hour experience.

I was pleased with the cast and the characters they played. Owen Wilson is just Moebius from the Loki TV series on Disney +, which is fine because I love that character. He and LaKeith Stanfield had good chemistry and shined individually and together. But who really stole the show in my opinion were the ghosts themselves. They were genuinely funny when the moment called for it and positively contributed to the story. They never got in the way and flowed very well with the cast. Speaking of the story, it is very generic and easy to follow, but the attempts to add “B plots” fell flat, mainly because something would happen almost immediately after a nice moment wrapped up. The sub plots never had time to digest, but I wasn’t super invested in what was happening story wise. I wanted to see the mansion do cool stuff and the ghosts do cool stuff too, and I got that.

I’m not a movie critic by any means. What you’ve read is just my very base level, movie go-er thoughts on the film. I enjoyed it, it was well worth the $7 trip. But I’ll probably never watch it again, or think of it as I’m waiting in line at Magic Kingdom. If you have younger kids or have a Disney-knowing crew of your own, watch it with them, because they’ll get the most enjoyment out of it. 

Did you see The Haunted Mansion? What did you think? Comment below!

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