If you’ve been to any of the Disney theme parks you’ll be familiar with the Haunted Mansion attraction where you are chased around the house by ghosties and ghoulies and no one wants to be grabbed by the ghosties or especially the ghoulies (‘You’re fired!’ – Ed) But this is the second attempt at making a film of the beloved theme park ride twenty years after the Eddie Murphy effort.
Replacing Murphy is Lakeith Stanfield as astro physicist Ben Matthias loved up with his future wife, a haunted house tour guide but we are soon whisked forward where we now see him alone, sad and now a haunted house tour guide himself. But into the mix is thrown Gabbie (Rosario Dawson) and her young son Travis ( Chase Dillon) who themselves have moved into and now reside in the Haunted Mansion of the title who not for once have any inkling that there’s anything suspicious about the creaking gothic mansion until the ghostly goings on begin
When it does Gabbie calls in an all star cast that includes an exorcist priest (Owen Wilson), a potty medium (Tiffany Haddish) a grouchy history professor ( Danny DeVito) and Ben himself with his special camera that captures ghosts on film and proves about as effective as the CCTV cameras on Jeffrey Epstein’s prison cell. The cause of all this relates to the Hatbox Ghost , a non-alliterative moniker that trips off the tongue and falls flat on its face, and here the ghostly visage is played by Jared Leto as it all builds to a bleak climax
Ideally suited to Halloween it a missed opportunity to release the film in the middle of summer. Written by Katie Dippolf who has scripted a number of laughs on Parks and Recreation, The Heat and Snatched but Haunted Mansion is an odd mix because whilst it’s too dark for young children it’s not really funny enough for adults and there is a very corporate feel about the film. The grief that Ben suffers undercuts the film and his wil- they, won’t-they romance with Gabbie is nothing unexpected and the rest of the cast, all decent comic actors in their own right don’t really have that much to play with meaning that in a summer of blockbusters this doesn’t really have a ghost of a chance.
related feature: Judas and the Black Messiah review
related feature: We go to the UK premiere of Haunted Mansion
Here’s the UK premiere with director Justin Simien introducing the film….
Here’s the Haunted Mansion trailer…..