If you are a fan of The Haunted Mansion attraction, you are probably wondering if director Justin Simien and his crew took care by including a lot of characters and experiences from the classic Disney attraction.
They do get the look of The Haunted Mansion right, but that’s about the only good thing in the film.
There are many references to the attraction, most done subtly, from doom buggies to an instrumental of “Grim Grinning Ghosts” and more. Parks fans will likely spend most of the movie picking out the details, which is just fine, as the rest is basically actors trapped in the Mansion. The story is very weak; it is way too long, and by the time something interesting happens, you might be asleep.
“Haunted Mansion” is about a mother and son, played by Rosario Dawson and Chase Dillon, who move into their new house and discover it is haunted. They recruit a watered down version of the Ghostbusters consisting of a tour guide, a priest, a psychic, and a historian in order to break the power that the mansion has over them. Along the way, they discover that the ghosts have even more plans in store, and the team must come together in order to stop a much bigger threat.
Part of the problem is that none of these characters are interesting, and neither is the story. It starts off well, but then the story goes on for far too long, and you just hope it ends sooner rather than later. The special effects are well done, and the scene in the stretching room is very inventive. The ghosts look like their Disney Parks counterparts, and it is fun to recognize them as well as various rooms from the attraction. But in the end, it’s a case of style over substance.
Rosario Dawson does a very convincing job of being a mom to her son, Chase Dillon, who is also good in his role. Tiffany Haddish plays the psychic (or medium), and she is the standout of the team who seemed committed to her role. Jamie Lee Curtis plays Madame Leota, and she is pretty spot on with her interpretation.
Then you have Owen Wilson and Danny DeVito, who really add nothing to the movie. The lead actor, LaKeith Stanfield, basically mumbles throughout the whole movie, and he just seems bored to be there.
For all of the hype about Jared Leto playing The Hatbox Ghost, it’s hard to tell what his contribution was to the role. The Hatbox Ghost is all CGI, so I am not sure if Leto did motion capture for the character or not. The voice is also digitally modulated, and you really can not tell if it is his voice or not. There is a scene that shows the human form of The Hatbox Ghost, and that is clearly Leto, but it’s just a photo. I’m sure he received a nice paycheck.
You don’t have to worry about staying to see any after credit scenes, there are none.
There isn’t much else to say. If you are a fan of The Haunted Mansion attraction, you may find some things that you will appreciate. The Mansion itself is not the problem, it is the lack of care put into the story and the lack of enthusiasm by most of the human actors. It’s no “Pirates Of The Caribbean,” and it feels more like a made-for-TV movie than a theatrical release. I would just wait for this to hit Disney+.
I give “Haunted Mansion” a 5 out of 10.