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  • Writer's pictureRob Ervin

Rob Reviews "Haunted Mansion"

Disney+ has a great series called Behind the Attraction where they look at different features of their parks not only from their origins but also how they have evolved over time and culture expansion. From Space Mountain to their resorts, my fandom of all things Disney loved each and every episode, but the one that really fascinated me was the episode dealing with The Haunted Mansion. This attraction seems to be the one that differs the most between the different parks worldwide, but the story told within the version featured at Disneyland in Anaheim, California is the basis for their latest big-screen effort in Haunted Mansion.

Rosario Dawson plays Gabbie, a single mother who is trying to start a new life in New Orleans and is the new owner of Gracie Mansion alongside her son, Travis (Chase W. Dillon). Upon finding out that the mansion is haunted with a number of ghosts, Gabbie hires Father Kent (Owen Wilson), astrophysicist Ben Matthias (LaKeith Stanfield), medium Harriet (Tiffany Haddish) and college professor Bruce Davis (Danny DeVito) to try and get rid of the spirits so they can just keep living their lives. This proves more difficult than they realized as the history of Gracie Manor reveals itself as does the evil that resides there.

It is understandable to have some apprehension going into this since the badly received 2003 adaptation of the attraction with Eddie Murphy. In true Disney fashion, this version is longer than that one by about thirty-five minutes and there were some within the fan base that proceeded with caution at the hiring of writer Katie Dippold (responsible for Ghostbusters: Answer the Call and Snatched), but don’t let any of these facts keep you away from this telling of the story. Dear White People director Justin Simien does a great job here with Dippold’s material that hits all of the great notes of the attraction itself and weaving an engaging story around it that gives each and every character within it the opportunity to play their part. The Easter Eggs are pretty awesome without being distracting and are not done in a way where those not familiar with the lore are, which is also a good thing. No one is wasted here in a mini ensemble that is perfectly paced with nothing where I thought “this could have been taken out with no consequence”. Let me also be clear that if you have never been to a Disney park or are familiar with the attraction, that is OK too. This film can truly be enjoyed by just about anyone that has that Disney spirit.

From the “haunted” aspect, there has to be an element of “jump scares” in there, but if you know how I feel about such things (not a fan), it didn’t bother me in the least. It does enough to keep the mood where it needs to be to match the story but does not rely on it for the sake of keeping it spooky. The backstory and great visual effects are enough to not break the mood (remember, this is Disney) with the scary parts keeping it within its deserved PG-13 rating. There is no real gore, but some makeup effects do get a little creepy.

As per normal with this kind of film, I am perplexed that Haunted Mansion did not get an October release especially given the current state of Hollywood. This film would be a great way to get into the mood of the Halloween season for the entire family amongst the stuff that will be out there that isn’t. Perhaps it will get a re-release or be shown at a theater near you that does themed screenings, but even if they don’t this is worth the Blu-Ray or streaming purchase to just sit down and have spooky fun as the temperatures cool off.

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