Disney’s “Haunted Mansion,” directed by Justin Simien, provides a lackluster journey through the iconic theme park attraction. While this PG-13-rated horror-comedy might not deliver on scares, it does make a modest attempt to find humor in its absurd take on a ghostly tale.
Simien, renowned for his work on “Dear White People,” manages to salvage the film from being a total disappointment by infusing it with his comedic sensibilities. The story revolves around Gracey Manor, a haunted mansion grappling with supernatural troubles. The movie’s storyline starts with a couple—the skeptical astrophysicist Ben (LaKeith Stanfield) and the believer in the supernatural (played by Charity Jordan)—and unfolds through the tragedies that shape their lives.
Ben, who is actually a very bright inventor, creates a camera capable of capturing images of ghosts. The plot then shifts forward several years, introducing Gabbie (Rosario Dawson), a single mother, and her young son Travis (Chase W. Dillon), who embark on the ambitious venture of converting the haunted mansion into a bed-and-breakfast despite its eerie reputation. Along the way, they enlist the help of a quirky clergyman (Owen Wilson), a zany medium (Tiffany Haddish), and a jittery scholar (Danny DeVito), with Jamie Lee Curtis making a delightful cameo appearance.
The mansion’s resident ghosts find themselves in a frenzy as an evil spirit takes over, leading them to abandon their haunting grounds in fear. And that, essentially, encapsulates the entire story: a mansion, undeniably haunted. To its credit, “Haunted Mansion” doesn’t aim to terrify, but rather to entertain with a light-hearted approach to the paranormal.
Despite the film’s thin comedic material, the cast endeavors to salvage the experience. LaKeith Stanfield, Dawson, Wilson, Haddish, and DeVito form the ensemble, striving to inject life into the movie.
Rated PG-13 for its mild ghostly antics, the film boasts a manageable runtime of 2 hours and 2 minutes—suitable for families seeking a gentle cinematic outing.
“Haunted Mansion” falls short of providing the spine-tingling haunted house experience horror enthusiasts crave. Its humor is limited, making it more appropriate for very, very, very young audiences.
“Haunted Mansion” is now playing.