Haunted Mansion

Certificate: 12A

Starring: LaKeith Stanfield, Tiffany Haddish, Owen Wilson, Danny DeVito, Rosario Dawson

Release date: 2023

3 out of 5


One of Disney’s oldest and most beloved theme park attractions is the basis of this movie, and while it isn’t on a par with the similarly inspired Jungle Cruise or Pirates of the Caribbean, it’s nonetheless a spookily fun diversion for families and fans of the haunted house attraction.

Directed by lifelong fan of the Disney haunted house, Justin Simien, the movie stars LaKeith Stanfield as Ben, who gave up his career as an astrophysicist following the death of his girlfriend Alyssa. He now runs ghost tours in New Orleans, and is recruited by priest and exorcist Father Kent (Wilson) to visit Gracey Manor, where doctor Gabbie (Dawson) and her son Travis (Chase W Dillon) have discovered their new home is filled with ghosts.

Ben, Kent, Gabbie and Travis are all soon trapped in the mansion, along with psychic Harriet (Haddish) and historian Bruce (De Vito), and it’s not long before many things are going bump in the night. As well as the friendlier and less creepy ghosts zooming about, there’s also an evil force, the Hatbox Ghost (Jared Leto) and the group soon realise that defeating him may be their only way of escape.

Fans of the ride will spot lots of references to the best-loved moments of the Disney attraction, from the dancing ghosts and the car ride, to the elongated room and the ghost inside a crystal ball (here it is Madame Leota, as played by Jamie Lee Curtis) but there is plenty to enjoy even if you have never been to a Disney theme park.

While it improves on the first Haunted Mansion movie that was made back in 2003 with Eddie Murphy, this doesn’t get the balance of spooky moments and comedy quite right in the way that movies like Ghostbusters, Beetlejuice or Hocus Pocus do.

Yes, there are laughs, and scary moments (thought most are fine for the over-9s), but it is never funny enough or frightening enough to be truly memorable. There is also an underlying theme of suicide and wanting to be dead that is too dark for a film aimed at the whole family (at one point it looks like more than one character will choose death to be reunited with someone they love), especially when each of these scenes is followed by a jokey moment or a spooky one making it feel at odds with the movie’s overall tone.

It’s not all bad, and some of the performances are great, especially Stanfield, De Vito, Curtis and Haddish (Dawson is woefully underused, and Leto’s casting seems like a complete waste of time, however) – but while this is enjoyable enough, the theme park ride is still much better.

Is Haunted Mansion suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...

This is a 12A certificate (UK) and is aimed at older kids and adults. A lot of ghosts feature in the movie and there are often scenes in which characters are in danger, which may be too scary and upsetting for the under 10s.

There are numerous jump scares, ghosts, and scenes in dark rooms, but the scariest moments are diffused by the humour.

The references to suicide and grief over the death of a loved one may be too much for younger viewers – especially as little Travis is one of the people to consider death to be with the person he loves.

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