There are some properties that just seem cursed. They seem like they have all the potential for good movie-making but no matter the take it does not turn out well. Disney’s adaptation of their Haunted Mansion ride seems like it is such a property. So far there have been 3 attempts to tell the story of the ride and all of them have been underwhelming to terrible and the latest attempt by director Justin Simien is no exception. It’s so strange because the ride has tons of lore attached to it so it’s not an inherent stretch like a The Country Bears or Tomorrowland based movies. In addition, Disney has made some of the most memorable spooky family entertainment over the years with movies like Watcher in the Woods, Don’t Look Under the Bed, Under Wraps, Phantom of the Megaplex. I’d even take another ride adaptation Tower of Terror over any of these Haunted Mansion movies (My review of Muppets Haunted Mansion and the Eddie Murphy movie)
A few years ago I ranked the Disney ride movies:
I feel like I should have a more interesting analysis of this latest Haunted Mansion film but I honestly found it to be a major slog. The director did such a poor job in drawing me into the story and characters I couldn’t wait for it to be over. It’s not the actors fault. They do what they can but all of the comedy fell flat especially from Tiffany Haddish who is hamming it up for the camera the most. I suppose I had a little bit of fun with the nods to the ride but I need more than ‘oh that looks like something from the ride…’ to entertain me (and this is my favorite Disneyland ride!)
There are some moments of heart with the little boy (Chase W Dillon) as he is grieving the loss of his Dad but because the laughs failed the whole thing felt relentlessly grim and joyless. It was honestly one of the most somber family films I’ve seen in a long time (I realize it is pg13 but it definitely has the feel of trying to appeal to families.)
Some of the visuals look nice but especially Owen Wilson and Danny DeVito are completely wasted with characters who are mostly standing around watching stuff happen for 123 excruciating minutes.
Interestingly enough my friend Kristen saw this same movie and had a great time so go figure! That’s movies for you. If you get to see it let me know what you think but I can’t help but feel Disney is dumping it in July instead of the Fall because they know they have a stinker on their hands. It certainly failed to entertain me.
3 out of 10
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