• Tue. Jun 25th, 2024

HAUNTED MANSION movie review

ByTaylor T Carlson

Jul 25, 2023

HAUNTED MANSION is directed by Justin Simien. The film stars LaKeith Stanfield, Tiffany Haddish, Owen Wilson, Danny DeVito, Rosario Dawson, Dan Levy, Jamie Lee Curtis, Winona Ryder, and Jared Leto. This is the second film adaptation of the Disney Parks attraction, following a 2003 film starring Eddie Murphy.

Single mom Gabbie and her son Travis move into a new house for a new beginning, only to find that the house is haunted by spirits, which pursue them no matter where they go. They’re joined by Ben, a widowed and disgraced specialist of the paranormal, a priest, and a college professor and an eccentric medium in an attempt to exorcise the undead from the home. But who is this malicious entity, and what will it take to purge the mansion of his presence and hauntings?

When I went to Disneyland as a young man, the Haunted Mansion in New Orleans Square was always one of my favorite attractions. But did it really need to be adapted into a feature film? This is the second feature film adaptation of the classic ride (I honestly haven’t seen the earlier film). Production values are high and the casting is great, but the end result is a bit scattershot and uneven. Put simply, you’ve seen this movie before in some shape or form, and probably done better.

Where I will give this film credit, first and foremost, is its casting. It’s a who’s who of yesterday and today’s stars, and everyone certainly does the best they can with the material they’re given. The cast has chemistry, and there are plenty of one-liners and moments I won’t deny got some laughs out of me. Some highlights include Tiffany Haddish as a medium who may not be as talented as she thinks, LaKeith Stanfield as a widowed man who finds a new family of sorts with his fellow people researching the mansion, Owen Wilson as a priest who ends up serving as much of the film’s comic relief, and an underused Jamie Lee Curtis as a medium from the distant past reawakened during the movie’s conflict. Casting and actor chemistry both get full marks.

I’ll also give the movie credit for its production values. The mansion practically becomes a character unto itself, with plenty of interesting spirits and top-notch effects around every corner. Animated sequences are utilized to tell the backstory of events making up the movie’s narrative, and these look absolutely fantastic (why couldn’t we get a whole film told in this style?) The homages to the original theme part attraction are nice, but I do appreciate the film for trying to be something more than a two-hour commercial for Disneyland. The New Orleans setting outside of the mansion, while never quite used to its fullest, is a refreshing change of pace from other overused locales in Hollywood productions.

Unfortunately, the movie never quite manages to come together. Despite a PG-13 rating, it can’t help but feel like a watered-down PG production with no real peril. The plot elements are all over the place and the narrative is awash in overused cinematic cliches. Many elements of HAUNTED MANSION will look and feel familiar, because you’ve seen them done better in other films. It’s predictable and overlong at two hours; the film could easily have been improved by cutting about 20 minutes worth of running time and maybe a few of the tertiary characters. It feels like there’s a deep plot here, but it’s really just smoke and mirrors.

Another point to make that’s not directly related to the film itself: Does anyone find it strange this movie is being released in late July, when it fact, it would’ve been a far better October/Halloween season release? The time of year just feels wrong for this kind of film.

HAUNTED MANSION is a decent way to kill two hours. The cast is great, and the movie looks fantastic. But you’ll get that feeling of familiarity throughout. You’ve seen this movie before done better, so many other times. It’s the same old story, with a fresh coat of paint, and that’s about it. Wait for this one to hit Disney+ if you’re curious (I’m willing to bet the streaming release will coincide with Halloween, which might be where this one should’ve went in the first place instead of theaters).

By Taylor T Carlson

Taylor T Carlson Assistant Editor/Senior Staff Writer Taylor T. Carlson was born August 17, 1984, and has called the Vegas Valley home his entire life. A die-hard fan of classic rock and metal music, Taylor has been writing album and concert reviews since he was 16 years old, and continues to do so, having done well over 1,000 reviews. He is also a fan of video gaming and cinema, and has reviewed a number of games and films as well, old and new alike. His thorough and honest (some would say brutally honest) reviewing style has won him the respect of hundreds of music fans and musicians alike, both local and abroad, and the ire of just as many others. Despite being one of the youngest attendees at classic hard rock/metal shows around Vegas, he is also one of the most knowledgeable, having gained the unofficial nickname of “The Eddie Trunk of Las Vegas.” In addition to reviews, Taylor has written and self-published three books on classic hard rock bands, and is a regular participant in rock and roll trivia contests. Taylor also holds a masters degree in special education from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and has appeared on the hit History Channel television series Pawn Stars. His dream is to be able to one day make a living from writing music books and reviews.

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