HCA Gradebook: “Oppenheimer”June 18, 2023
HCA Gradebooks: ‘Theater Camp’June 20, 2023
Film: Haunted Mansion (2023)
Plot: Inspired by the classic theme park attraction, “Haunted Mansion” is about a woman and her son who enlist a motley crew of so-called spiritual experts to help rid their home of supernatural squatters.
Cast: LaKeith Stanfield, Tiffany Haddish, Owen Wilson, Danny DeVito, Rosario Dawson, Chase W. Dillon, Daniel Levy, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Jared Leto.
Director: Justin Simien
Studio: Walt Disney
Number of Graders: 18
Average Grade: C+
Haunted Mansion is everything a fan like myself could want for one of their favorite rides. This film did a fantastic job paying homage to Walt Disney’s vision for the iconic ride and the Imagineers who brought it to life. It balances all the delightful easter eggs and callbacks with a story that feels familiar yet unique. The script by writer Katie Dippold deftly explores loss, grief, and finding joy in a way that speaks to even younger audience members. Aside from the incredible details taken from the ride and amplified on the screen, the cast’s performances make this haunt a blast.
Haunted Mansion is a fantastic lead-in to horror for families looking for a fun and spooktacular time at the cinema. Haunted Mansion pays immense homage to the Disney theme park ride of the same name and delivers both the scares and the hilarity.
Haunted Mansion blends comedy with heavier issues surrounding grief and still makes time for a few scares. Some jokes do not land, but the film hits its mark more often than it misses. The cast contributes mainly to the movie’s success, efficiently handling the emotional and comedic beats. There’s more to love here than expected.
The film overstays its welcome, but there’s a solid cast here, lots of fun in pulling off the spooky visuals, and enough work at play to make for an enjoyable horror comedy that could win over younger or newer genre fans.
While the comedy isn’t on par with the chilling production values, Haunted Mansion catches viewers off guard with its meditation on grief. Stanfield brings surprising emotional gravitas to the monologue about loss. Granted, the speech is obstructed by the namedrop of a popular brand, but Stanfield’s performance is so authentic that you’re willing to let it slide. Although we’ve seen better films about grief, Ben’s journey to acceptance makes for a deeper Haunted Mansion movie than expected. It might not be the best Haunted Mansion possible, but between the eerie atmosphere and commentary on loss, it’s probably the best one we’ll get. And that includes Muppets Haunted Mansion.
Haunted Mansion is tricky in some parts but eventually finds its footing! Owen Wilson is his usual funny self. The story goes a bit deeper into grief, healing, and Black love, which is unexpected. The storyline is a bit predictable regarding the ghosts, but it is good family fun!
Paul McGuire Grimes
Simien rides the fine line between trying to make this spooky and funny simultaneously. It’s probably not nearly as funny as it should be knowing what Eddie Murphy brought to his Haunted Mansion movie. Kids were having a lot of fun and laughing, but there is a lot of build-up introducing these ghost experts, the history of the haunted mansion, and who the Hatbox Ghost is. It could have reached the climax much faster to keep the runtime down.
Is this Haunted Mansion better than Eddie Murphy’s Haunted Mansion from 2003? One hundred percent! Is it a good movie regardless of what came before? It is in certain aspects. The way this new version of The Haunted Mansion looks in terms of production design and visuals (for the most part) is top-notch. It has more of a chilling atmosphere, and there are attempts to be more of a horror movie than the 2003 version but given that it’s Disney, there’s only so far they can go. The sets look just like the Disneyland ride, and the use of Buddy Baker’s Haunted Mansion theme is most welcome. The cast works together well, and some genuine laughs worked for me too. It is a relatively shallow movie, though. While there are attempts at character development and exploring the idea of dealing with grief, it’s hardly touched upon. The film is basically like riding the actual Haunted Mansion ride. It can be enjoyed at the moment, but unlike that classic attraction, you won’t have the urge to revisit it.
Haunted Mansion gives an updated spin to the spooky ride many know and love and the 2003 film starring Eddie Murphy. Rather than relying on floating figures from the beyond, which this one has plenty of, it tells a surprisingly moving story of grief’s lasting impacts when our loved ones pass. The rest of the movie is just fun, but LaKeith Stanfield is an excellent lead in this revamped film, and he’s surrounded by big laughs from Owen Wilson, Danny DeVito, and Tiffany Haddish.
Overall, Simien’s attempt at a Haunted Mansion movie is better than the previous one. However, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find it lacking. The heart is there, and the more mature themes of grief are too. But a large part of it feels like a hodgepodge of ideas from the ride, and Hollywood tossed out by executives and asked to be added to a blender to make a flavorless smoothie of meh. For me, Haunted Mansion lacked a great deal of spirit.
Haunted Mansion delivers a visually stunning experience with a talented cast that, unfortunately, fails to reach its full potential.
Haunted Mansion explores grief in a very surface-level, trivial manner. The actors seem to struggle with the erratic material: one minute lost in a soliloquy about loss and the next scrambling away from any number of moderately rendered ghosts and ghouls. Credit the creative team for trying, but the combination doesn’t work for me.
I can’t be the only one tired of so many films about grief. These stories rehash the same emotional themes over and over. Of course, because it has tons of ghosts, they just had to stuff a grief story into the Haunted Mansion movie. I was hoping this would be an enjoyable film about a fun house; alas, it’s barely fun, much more tedious than anything. I kept waiting for them to figure out what was going on finally. It lacks the energy, the spunk, and the spookiness it sorely needed. The whole film feels like a glorified commercial for the theme iconic theme park attraction, without anything unique or clever to offer as a standalone movie. Even the cast can’t save it. The Hatbox Ghost won this time.
The 2023 reimagining of Haunted Mansion is slightly better than the 2003 Eddie Murphy version. While the narrative doesn’t quite work, and the film has way too many potholes to ignore, I do have to say that it does use the characters from the theme park ride way better than I expected it would have. I do think that while fans of the beloved Disney attraction will find plenty of easter eggs to enjoy, the film’s biggest misfortune is how poorly it uses its all-star cast. I don’t understand how so many talented actors were cast and given so little to do. Also, the film struggles to strike the right tone. It’s a bit too dark for younger audiences and way too childish and silly for older audiences. It’s a mixed bag that proves that maybe not all theme park attractions need the silver-screen treatment.
The new Haunted Mansion does surpass the previous attempt by being just barely more than mediocre. The story completely misses the mark, the casting is unimaginative, and the script is neither funny nor scary.
A hollow, by-the-numbers, family flick that doesn’t deliver laughs or scares. Disney’s latest attempt to adapt a “theme park ride” results in another miss. Not even the cast’s solid effort, full of chemistry and charm, can help save this haunted comedy.
You can almost hear the gears turning in a second live-action adaptation that feels more mechanized than the amusement park ride. The actors try to conjure up some magic, but the lifeless and generic script is beyond salvation.
In a world full of sequels, prequels, and IP-equals, it is no shock that a movie like Haunted Mansion exists. A new adaptation of the famous Disneyland ride, this version of the Haunted Mansion comes via a collaboration with Justin Simien. Attempting to be your child’s first horror movie, the film doesn’t muster much in the way of being memorable, even with that low bar to clear. The movie’s saving grace, quite literally, is LaKeith Stanfield. The Oscar-nominated actor is given way more to do in the film than anticipated and rewards the movie with an excellent performance that shows off his range.