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Release Date: 07/28/23 [Cinemas]
Genre: Comedy. Drama. Family.

Studio: Walt Disney Pictures.

"A single mom named Gabbie hires a tour guide, a psychic, a priest and a historian to help exorcise her newly bought mansion after discovering it is inhabited by ghosts." 


Haunted Mansion is a fantastic lead-in to horror for families that are looking for a fun and spooktacular time at the cinema. Paying immense homage to the Disney theme park ride of the same name, Haunted Mansion delivers both the scares and the hilarity. 


The ensemble cast excels as their chemistry shines through amongst the ghosts residing in the mansion. Trapped in a labyrinth that they’re never allowed to leave, this team of unlikely participants must brave the frightening corridors of the mansion and bring peace to all inside from a maniacal force known as “The Hat-Box Ghost.” The film boasts the dynamic cast of Owen Wilson, Tiffany Haddish, Rosario Dawson, Danny Devito, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jared Leto, Chase Dillon, and is led by the sensational LaKeith Stanfield; it is truly fueled by the energy transmitted amongst this group. Owen Wilson is comedy dynamite here, while LaKeith Stanfield generates an earnest and emotional reaction through his kinetic performance. Devito earns his moments and Haddish tones down her usual comedic beats for some that better fit the atmosphere. Rosario Dawson’s Gabbie and her son Travis' solution to continue to lure help into the mansion is an intelligent decision on their part, as the more involved, the more likely the hauntings will conclude. The pair’s relationship is cute and Travis’ evolving friendship with Stanfield’s Ben makes for a coupling worth rooting for.  


Where these unexpected ghost professionals excel, it’s in the film’s prime antagonist that it loses steam, and that’s in Jared Leto’s CGI heavy “Hat-Box Ghost.” While his murderous ambitions are clear, it's in the lore provided by Jamie Lee Curtis’ Madame Leota that causes a bit of a struggle. Why is it that when he gets to 1,000 souls he’s able to leave the mansion? This is a topic I’m positive is explored in Madame Leota’s book, but never told clearly to the audience. Another negative to mention is the unfortunate factor that while from afar he looks eerie, up close his digital look flounders the experience. 


The set design is truly immaculate, as it perfectly encapsulates being on the ride while providing its own unique style that brings about memories of haunted attractions around the Halloween season. It’s the perfect amount of scary for younger audiences while simultaneously allowing for a laugh around every looming dark turn. The film welcomingly deals with the topics of loss and death, while appeasing horror newcomers with the frights along the way. There’s a common phrase used at this time of year, that it’s “Christmas in July,” but Haunted Mansion brings its own mark on the 2023 summer season with “Halloween in July.”

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