- Published: Wednesday, 26 July 2023 21:59
- Written by Lupe R Haas
Take two. Disney’s second attempt at adapting the theme park attraction into a movie arrives in theaters, and while HAUNTED MANSION is jam-packed with Easter Eggs Disneyland fans will enjoy, the plot is a little lackluster.
Inspired by the Disneyland attraction, Gabbie, a single mom (Rosario Dawson), moves into a mansion with her young son, Travis (Chase Dillon) but the house comes with some supernatural baggage in the form of spirits. She enlists a motley crew of experts to rid the place of the squatters.
The HAUNTED MANSION trailers lead you to believe the story will revolve around Dawson and her onscreen son (Chase W. Dillon), but the majority of the story centers around Lakeith Stanfield’s Ben and to a smaller degree Owen Wilson’s Father Kent. This misdirection causes some confusion when the story veers course to the male characters.
Ben’s backstory is the heart of the film, but it sacrifices Gabbie and Travis’ story. The young actor Chase W. Dillon is a scene-stealer so it disappointing not to see more of him until Act 3. Late in the movie, we begin to feel more for Ben when he befriends Travis, and they form a connection.
Rosario Dawson’s Gabbie is the most underdeveloped while the story takes the time to introduce other characters played by Tiffany Haddish and Danny DeVito.
Directed by Dear White People and BAD HAIR writer/director Justin Simien and a screenplay by Katie Dippold (2016’s GHOSTBUSTERS, THE HEAT), the fun of the HAUNTED HOUSE movie is the Easter Eggs. Disneyland’s spirits make their cameos in the film at every turn. The mansion and ghosts are exact replicas of the attraction.
The cinematography and production design are standouts. You may not be invested in the story but the visuals are certainly more entertaining since they are tied to the Disneyland attraction.
The Hatbox ghost voiced by Jared Leto changes forms throughout the movie, and his last reveal is laughable in that he looks like the Grinch rather than a scary entity.
HAUNTED MANSION captures the spirit of the Disneyland ride. It’s creepy but not extremely frightening. It’s not a horror movie but a Disney movie fit for the family unit.