Haunted Mansion was directed by Justin Simien and is the second film based on the theme park ride at Disney. The film stars LaKeith Stanfield, Rosario Dawson, Owen Wilson, Tiffany Haddish, Danny DeVito, Jamie Lee Curtis & Jared Leto. Disney begun this reboot back 2010 with Guillermo Del Toro attached to direct but after years in development hell and a slew of writers, directors and producer signing on and walking away, the film wouldn’t see an official “green light” until August 2020. The first film came out in 2003 and starred Eddie Murphy, Terrence Stamp & Jennifer Tilly and was directed by Rob Minkoff.
When a widowed doctor (Dawson) and her young son move in to Gracey Manor in Louisiana, things immediately begin to shake their cores as paranormal activity goes on. They enlist the help of a priest, (Wilson) but when his powers are tested and ultimately fail, a team is assembled. The team consist of an astrophysicist (Stanfield), a psychic (Haddish) and a local historian (DeVito). The team begins investigating the mystery of ghosts in the mansion and the quickly discover that this more than just a haunted mansion, but a twisted and evil scheme for power from beyond the grave.
While the 2003 film wasn’t a financial success, it did gain a cult like following years later. The 2023 film had the same merit and entertainment values if not more than the previous film. The standout performance here is LaKeith Stanfield who has serves as the heart and soul of the film. His character arc has the typical ups and downs, but his performances and signature nuances are showcased and plays off very well with the rest of the cast. Everyone else has a good performance as well, there’s no lackluster performances here. The cast has great chemistry and incredible comedic timing. The CGI is cool, and the visuals are a major upgrade from the previous film, but I think that has more to do with time and where we are as far as filmmaking. This film was definitely made for the theater, and it does kind of bum me out that this wasn’t a box office success cause it definitely worth the price of admission. I can honestly say when it dropped on Disney+ around Halloween this was the perfect film for me and the kids.
The movie hit theaters in July of 2023 and then dropped on Disney+ later on in October. The premiere was held at Disneyland in Anaheim, California but due to the SAG – AFTRA strike, the cast could not attend which is unfortunate. The timing of the strike could not have been more unfortunate as they initially began the day before the release of the film. I don’t want to blame the strike as the cause of the film’s lackluster box office but there are sign that point to it and once it began it would become very difficult for cast and crew to partake in any type of promotional events for the film. Lots of other films and TV shows did suffer which made a very uncomfortable and unfavorable time for us moviegoers as the summer movie season ended on somewhat of a sour note.