Well, ghostly gals and guys, saddle up because the Haunted Mansion has swung open its creaky doors on the big screen for a spirited rendezvous! Now, I won’t say it was the full-blown Disney Afternoon Special I was looking for, but it certainly has its eerie charms.
Diving headfirst into the plot, we find Gabbie and Travis (played by the ever-illustrious Dawson and Dillon) attempting to exorcise their not-so-humble abode with the help of a motley crew of specter specialists.
Regarding casting, the mansion’s star-studded lineup, including LaKeith Stanfield, Tiffany Haddish, and Owen Wilson (to name just a few), was spot on. The casting spells were on point, and each actor brought their own spooky sparkle to the table. My hat (and perhaps my head) off to the casting team! (I know; the puns keep coming. Disney has that effect on me.) That and props to the special effects.
No puns here – Haunted Mansion looks great. You must imagine they had some Imagineers in the Special Effects Department for a movie that played such strong homage to the ride that Walt Disney himself conceived of. And let’s not forget the delightful one-liners! I haven’t had that many giggles since I last tried to dance the ‘Monster Mash’ at a Halloween party (with mixed results, might I add. Terrible results, actually). It truly captured the essence that Disney parkgoers have come to love and expect from the legendary ride. Seriously, if you’ve been on that spooky journey at Disneyland or Walt Disney World, keep those peepers peeled for ride references. It’s like a hidden Mickey hunt but with ghosts and goblins. (And we do love a Hidden Mickey!)
But, dear phantoms, every silver lining has a cloud. While it tickles the nostalgia bone, it also somewhat baffles the line between being too scary for little trick-or-treaters and not scary (or funny) enough for horror fans. I mean, a family movie that left Timmy hiding behind the couch but didn’t quite give Aunt Ethel the horror fix she was hoping for?
And speaking of funny, let’s address the polter-elephant in the room. Some of the jokes felt like they were phoned in from the afterlife, specifically those tied to what seemed like blatant product placements. Costco, Amazon and Walgreens were all mentioned by one character in the space of twenty minutes. I get it; even ghosts gotta pay the bills, but come on!
Overall, this is perfect for die-hard Disney and Haunted Mansion fans, but perhaps a touch befuddling for other audiences. It’s a wonderfully whimsical outing that pays homage to a cherished ride. However, some jokes give the impression that they’re being phoned in, which alters the film’s true potential. This is still a fun ride as the film is packed with solid concepts, brainless entertainment, and wild visual effects; it’s a pleasing experience.
23rd August 2023
Written by Amanda Rosazza