Director: Justin Simien
Based on the Disney ride, done as a movie before, this version of Haunted Mansion is pure fun with just enough scares to make it interesting. Some classic elements, some modern ideas, this take on a concept we’re familiar with is both comforting and challenging, a film for kids and for adults, a little bit of everything all rolled into one. Haunted Mansion won’t make many Top lists when the year is over, but what it does it does right, and no family will walk away un-entertained.
A mother and her son move into a big spooky house in New Orleans, only to find that it’s haunted. When they attempt to leave, the ghosts none-too-subtly pull them back to the mansion, until they realize that something must be done, professionals must be called in. Enter Father Kent, the wacky priest, and Ben Matthias, our main character. Ben lost his wife recently, hasn’t moved past that grief, and doesn’t really believe in ghosts, despite carrying on his love’s passion for the supernatural. Now they’ll all have to battle the dark power of the mansion, before it reaches its sinister goal.
Haunted Mansion is fun, flippant, and frantic, about what you’d expect from a Disney movie aimed at a younger audience and not done with the detail usually devoted to the larger Disney princess or Pixar animated blockbusters. This movie is what it is, and it’s not sorry, even when it’s just silly and a bit weird, it never apologizes for having a good time. And then the end comes and you actually feel the heartbreak/heartwarmth; that’s where it surprised me the most. The acting is good, Owen Wilson steals the show, the ghosts are creepy, the story is done well, and overall this is a movie worth the money, as far as its ceiling will allow.
My rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆