Photograph: Jalen Marlowe/Disney
  • Film

The Haunted Mansion

Disney plunders its theme parks again for a ghostly ride to nowhere

Phil de Semlyen

Time Out says

People who’ve had spectral encounters often report a strange uncertainty about what they’ve witnessed. Are their eyes deceiving them? Have they really seen what they think they’ve seen? I had a very similar sensation after watching The Haunted Mansion, an experience that fades from the memory as soon as you’ve left the cinema. Give it ten minutes and it’s already a vague recollection.

Fans of the 2003 Eddie Murphy version of the Disney theme park ride will be nonplussed to discover that this one sheds that film’s goofy charm and some of its ghostly goings-on in favour of extra human characters and a solemn subplot about grief. The plot basically throws a bucket of CG gloop over 1963 horror classic ‘The Haunting’, with a young widow (Rosario Dawson) and her son moving into a creaky Louisiana pile only to find it floor-to-ceiling in ghosts. LaKeith Stanfield’s grieving astrophysicist, Owen Wilson’s huckster priest and Tiffany Haddish’s ebullient psychic join the pair in being subjected to the unconvincing torments of the dead, led by the blandly malevolent Hatbox Ghost (Jared Leto, somewhere beneath the VFX). 

Justin Simien, the creator of impressive, spiky race satire Dear White People, oversees it all – but it could be anyone. It is tempting to wonder what the film’s original director Guillermo del Toro’s version might have looked like, knowing the Mexican’s love of a good monster. There are precious few of them here.

In cinemas worldwide Aug 11.

Cast and crew

  • Director:Justin Simien
  • Screenwriter:Katie Dippold
  • Cast:
    • Owen Wilson
    • Danny DeVito
    • Rosario Dawson
    • Jamie Lee Curtis
    • LaKeith Stanfield
    • Tiffany Haddish
    • Jared Leto
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