Coming to theatres this Friday from director Justin Simien and Walt Disney Studios is the story of the iconic HAUNTED MANSION.
Ben (LaKeith Stanfield) is a paranormal tour guide who doesn’t believe in the paranormal which makes his job more difficult. He does it as a way to deal with the grief and loss of his wife Alyssa. Meanwhile, Gabbie (Rosario Dawson) and young son Travis (Chase W. Dillon) are dealing with their own new beginning moving into a mansion that needs a lot of work.
Immediately it becomes clear that the house is haunted keeping Gabbie and Travis on their toes and looking for help. Father Kent (Owen Wilson) tracks down Ben to ask him to come to the mansion and photograph what is happening using a special lens he invented. At first Ben has no motivation to go but money has a strange way of changing a mind.
Arriving at the mansion, Ben goes along to get along and it isn’t until he gets back to his own home that something has decided to move in too! Ben and Father Kent seek out Professor Bruce Davis (Danny DeVito), a historian who knows a bit about the house and its history. Deciding that the only way to find out what the house and its eerie occupants wants is to bring Harriet (Tiffany Haddish), a psychic in for a séance.
Hidden in the attic is Madame Leota (Jamie Lee Curtis) who, with the help of Harriet, decide its time to take on the specter that has been collecting spirits. Getting an object that belonged to the the very angry ghost Crump (voiced by Jared Leto), Ben and Father Kent track down something that will could change the game in their favor.
But they are running out of time as the Hatbox Ghost has made his plans very clear and it doesn’t look good for the living!
Stanfield as Ben is a man dealing with grief issues. Taking the job of photographing what is inside the mansion gives him a paycheck and that’s all he is interested in. Unfortunately, the ghosts have other plans and Ben finds himself unraveling a mystery. Stanfield is a solid, if not slightly shaken, character who begins to believe in what is happening and all in to fix it.
Wilson as Father Kent seeks out Ben for a little spiritual guidance and boy is the priest going to need it. He believes without a doubt that things are twisted and crazy in the mansion and doesn’t mind finding the right people to deal with it. Wilson is hilarious but then again, I’d expect nothing less. DeVito as Professor Davis is all in wanting to be part of every step of the investigation. Always curious about the mansion, now is his shot and DeVito makes sure his character gets it.
Dawson as Gabbie doesn’t seem to affected by the ghosts, almost accepting them even though they are making her a tad uneasy. Gabbie’s fright level never seems to get to hyped up so that makes her the sane one out of the bunch. Dillion as Travis is not happy with their current living situation and welcomes all the adults into the madness. Each has a part to play and so does young Dillion although his part takes its time.
Big shout out to Curtis as Madade Leota because no one else could have given off the right amount of crazy inside a crystal ball. The last few years has shown that Curtis just plays the roles that look like fun to do and it shows through her characters.
Other cast include Charity Jordan as Alyssa, Hasan Minhaj as the police sketch artist, J.R. Adduci as William Gracey, Creek Wilson as the Mariner Ghost, Ben Bladon as Hatchet Chost, Lindsay Lamb as The Bride ghost, Fedor Steer as Ezra, Dany Levy as Vic and Winona Ryder as tour guide Pat.
Walt Disney Studios continues to bring quality programming to kids and kids at heart. Home of the most beloved animated features including SNOW WHITE, PINOCCHIO and SLEEPING BEAUTY to name a few is what keeps families coming back for more. To see what is currently available visit www.movies.disney.com.
HAUNTED MANSION is proving to be a fun family film and for anyone that remembers the ride as far back as I do, felt more like what I would expect. Although the ‘living’ characters are interesting, for me it was the not-so-living characters that I absolutely love. The ghosts are funny, devious, giggle worthy and intent on making us all jump in the theatre seats.
Director Simien captured the joy of the Haunted Mansion ride and put it on screen with fun, mystery, adventure, a bit of chaos and charm. Three generations sat at the screening and we left talking about our favorite ghosts and that is how the movie going experience should be.
It has been twenty years since the Eddie Murphy version with THE HAUNTED MANSION. The story has been revamped but what goes on in the house and the grounds of the mansion are still filled with specters and a story with bad guys wanting bad things. That being said, its fine for what it is but is it spooktacularly memorable? Not so much but that does not change the enjoyment of it so do just that – enjoy the ride!
In the end – home is where the haunt is!