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Haunted Mansion Has Moments Of Emotional Depth But Is Mostly Horror For Kids

Gateway horror movies or shows like Goosebumps and Are You Afraid Of The Dark? are important to ignite the spark of any young child’s interest in the genre. No one is born immediately watching R-rated horror straight out of the womb. In that regard, Haunted Mansion 2023 might be just fine and nothing more.

Boo!

(L-R): Owen Wilson as Father Kent, Rosario Dawson as Gabbie, LaKeith Stanfield as Ben, Tiffany Haddish as Harriet, and Danny DeVito as Bruce in Disney’s HAUNTED MANSION. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Firstly, it’s important to establish that Haunted Mansion 2023 isn’t related or connected in any way to the previous 2003’s The Haunted Mansion starring Eddie Murphy. This is a brand-new take by director Justin Simien and writer Katie Dippold to adapt the iconic Disneyland attraction of the same name into a movie. The highlight of Haunted Mansion 2023 is during scenes where the characters are exploring and facing their grief, which results in tender moments of emotional depth that’s a pleasant surprise in a movie like this. LaKeith Standfield’s Ben delivers a heartfelt performance as the protagonist and the heart of the movie. The scenes where he discusses his grief (I won’t go into specifics to avoid spoilers) are poignant and touching enough that they made me almost tear up.

Unfortunately, that’s the one really good aspect of the movie (besides the interesting setting, as the movie is set in New Orleans, Louisiana). The majority of the movie is the typical and conventional family-friendly horror movie catered for kids and younger viewers. This is not the kind of movie that hardcore horror movie buffs should watch because this is meant as a gateway horror movie for children and it’s not scary enough to frighten anyone above the age of 12. If you like movies like the 2015 Goosebumps movie starring Jack Black, this is right down your alley. There are several twists and turns that try to give Haunted Mansion 2023 more plot and narrative substance but they’re there to pad out a simplistic story.

Jamie Lee Curtis as Madame Leota in Disney’s HAUNTED MANSION. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

As for the humour and comedy, it’s very bland, probably because the script is trying too hard to accommodate younger viewers. Despite featuring a stacked ensemble cast with names like Owen Wilson, Danny De Vito, Jamie Lee Curtis, Rosario Dawson and others, Haunted Mansion 2023 just isn’t very funny. I barely chuckled throughout the movie, and this problem is made worse by its draggy two-hour runtime, which is way too long for a movie like this. Reducing 30 minutes or so would have made this movie much improved. That being said, none of that is the ensemble cast’s fault, most of whom are there giving their all (even though the script isn’t doing them any favours).

Compared with 2003’s The Haunted Mansion, Haunted Mansion 2023 definitely benefits from higher production value and looks more cinematic. However, I can’t help but point out certain things that 2003’s Haunted Mansion did better, such as using awesome practical effects for some of its ghosts. Almost all of the ghosts in Haunted Mansion 2023 rely on pure CGI, and none of them are really that scary. Perhaps it’s just that the movie isn’t targeted at me, but it’s still hard to believe that even kids below the age of 12 will find them scary.

Baby’s First Horror Movie

(L-R): Chase Dillon as Travis, Rosario Dawson as Gabbie, LaKeith Stanfield as Ben, Owen Wilson as Father Kent, and Tiffany Haddish as Harriet in Disney’s HAUNTED MANSION. Photo by Jalen Marlowe. © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Horror fans and adults probably won’t find Haunted Mansion 2023 to be captivating to watch, but it’s a fun and decent enough movie for families to catch at the cinemas. In the best-case scenario, Haunted Mansion 2023 might just be THE gateway horror movie for kids from this generation before they delve into Evil Dead or others when they grow older.

FINAL SCORE: 50/100

We attended an early screening of Haunted Mansion courtesy of The Walt Disney Company Malaysia. Haunted Mansion is slated to premiere in Malaysian cinemas on 27 July 2023.

 

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Comment(2)

  1. The Haunted Mansion Reboot Premieres On Disney+ Hotstar Next Month

    September 13, 2023 at 10:52 pm

    […] In the meantime, check out our review of Haunted Mansion by heading over here. […]

  2. Disney+ Hotstar Offers Some Spooky Content This Halloween Season

    October 27, 2023 at 5:09 pm

    […] Check out our full review of The Haunted Mansion by heading over here. […]

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