Haunted Mansion

Director: Justin Simien
Starring: LaKeith Stanfield, Rosario Dawson, Owen Wilson, Tiffany Haddish, Danny DeVito, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chase W Dillon, Jared Leto, JR Adduci
Distributor: Disney
Runtime: 123 mins. Reviewed in Aug 2023
Reviewer: Fr Peter Malone msc
| JustWatch |
Rating notes: Mild supernatural themes, violence and coarse language, some scenes may scare young children

An old mansion full of ghosts and how to get rid of them, based on the Disney theme park ride.

This review has been influenced by the experience of watching Haunted Mansion at a media preview, which included, as well as the reviewers, a great number of children with their parents.

At the end of the screening, the critics dismissed the film, seeing little value in it. And, that is confirmed by a number of reviewers and, checking the bloggers on IMDb.

However, the experience of watching the film was for this reviewer quite different. Quickly becoming conscious of the youngsters in the audience, their responses of delight, especially with the ghosts, the hauntings, the struggles with the ghosts. This was made easy because one of the central characters is a nine-year-old boy. There were several jump moments which seemed to delight the young audience.

The other thing noted about the young audience was its response to the jokes, to the funny lines, to the humour. Reviewers and bloggers dismiss this as being old hat and obvious, but it would seem the young audience found these jokes very funny. While the adults may have heard the lines before, maybe this was the first time for the youngsters.

In fact, the film has a strong cast, a sympathetic Stanfield as the sad widower, physicist, dragged into photographing the ghosts with a camera he had been working on. Dawson is a nice mother and Dillon, an engaging nine-year-old. And the film has the comic skills of DeVito as an ageing professor, Wilson as an unconventional (emphasis on the con) priest, Haddish as a loud medium and, rather surprisingly, Curtis as a medium ghost from the past. An unrecognisable Leto is the villain. The director, Justin Simien, has a reputation for satirical film and television, especially Dear White People.

So, an entertainment, PG-rated, geared especially for children from 10 to 15 or so who can be accompanied by the parents who may be pleased that the young ones are actually enjoying the haunted mansion and the ghostly hijinks.

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