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Haunted Mansion – Film Review

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haunted mansion 2023

You may not be aware of it, but there was a new Haunted Mansion film released in cinemas. It didn’t do very well unsurprisingly. Partly because it didn’t take a genius to know it would be on Disney+ and other stores in time for Halloween. And low and behold, here we are! Will this new version become a firm family favourite for the spooky season? Read on to find out, if you dare…

This 2023 version of the Disney theme park attractions of the same name is totally unrelated to the 2003 film ‘The’ Haunted Mansion (the removal of ‘the’ for the new film is purely just to confuse things a little bit more). These films are both loosely based on the theme park attraction, so there are similarities story-wise, but are two very different films in their own right.

And obviously, the 2021 Muppets Haunted Mansion is its own thing entirely.

In the 2023 version an ensemble cast including Owen Wilson, Rosario Dawson, the ever fantastic Danny DeVito and Tiffany Haddish are headed up by LaKeith Stanfield. Jared Leto and Jamie Lee Curtis both pop-up, and there are cameos from Winona Ryder and Daniel Levy as tour guides towards the end of the film. It’s an impressive cast for what could easily be perceived as a simple kiddie horror film.

Ben (LaKeith Stanfield) is developing a camera that can detect dark matter, but through some spoiler-y events, is left to run a ghost tour around New Orleans. Meanwhile, Gabbie (Rosario Dawson) and her son Travis (Chase Dillon) are moving into a new house on the outskirts. You can probably guess what house they are moving into; the clue is in the title. They quickly realise that there is something strange about the house they’ve bought, namely, the large number of ghosts and ghouls  inhabiting the place. They make no bones about being there either, and Gabbie and Travis quickly decide to leave the house. Or, mansion if you are still struggling with the analogy.

However, there is something else odd with the house, that means anyone who enters will be forced to return. That has also happened to Ben and the strange Father Kent (Owen Wilson), who were employed by Gabbie to help rid the mansion of ghosts. But to no avail, and now the four of them are forced to live inside the Haunted Mansion.

Their final plan involves creating a dream team of like-minded individuals to help piece together the mystery of why the ghosts are here, and hopefully put an end to it all so that everyone can live as normal again. Who you gonna call? Why, Tiffany Haddish and Danny Devito as Harriet and Professor Bruce respectively.

Harriet is a medium so her skillset is obvious, whereas Professor Bruce is a college historian with more than a passing interest in the house in question. They both step over the threshold too and are in it until the mystery is solved.

With a cast such as these, there are bound to be some quite funny moments. Tiffany Haddish steals the show as psychic/medium Harriet; her confidence but ineptitude is often found throwing up good moments. Owen Wilson however, isn’t fooling anyone that he is a priest, at least, not the viewers. And it is refreshing to see Danny DeVito as a more regular human being after seeing him portraying Frank Reynolds in It’s Always Sunny for over 15 years.

But the laughs also give way for the scares when needed. But don’t worry, it isn’t too much for the little ones to take, unlike some of the darker plot points on offer here including con artists, heart conditions and bereavement of parents and loved ones. The scares are toned down effectively so that they don’t give kids nightmares; they could easily be ramped up as well to achieve that. But they are pitched perfectly for families to enjoy.

But Haunted Mansion does clock in at just over two hours, and that is a tad too long. The laughs dry up towards the end, the scares get repetitive and the climax isn’t as engaging as the premise leads you to believe at the beginning. As soon as Jared Leto is introduced the film becomes almost formulaic, with any soul it had sucked up entirely. Not necessarily by Jared Leto, but by the disappointing third act.

But for fans of the various iterations of the rides, there are several nods to them in the film. Perhaps, just enough for you to watch it through to the very end.

For everyone else, there may not be a new Halloween favourite to be found in Haunted Mansion, but as a single-night viewing as the evenings draw in there are worse choices to make. Haunted Mansion runs out of steam way before the finale, but a lot of the things leading up to that are worthwhile. With LaKeith Stanfield and Tiffany Haddish both turning in good performances – as is very much their standard – this kid-friendly comedy horror is pretty much what you would expect.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Strong ensemble cast
  • Moments of humour and horror
Cons:
  • Loses its way towards the end
  • Slightly too long
Info:
  • Purchased by TXH
  • Running time and release date - 2hr 3mins | 2023
Richard Dobson
Richard Dobson
Avid gamer since the days of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Grew up with the PS1 and PS2 but changed allegiances in 2007 with the release of Halo 3.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Strong ensemble cast</li> <li>Moments of humour and horror</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Loses its way towards the end</li> <li>Slightly too long</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Purchased by TXH</li> <li>Running time and release date - 2hr 3mins | 2023 </ul>Haunted Mansion - Film Review
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