Haunted Mansion (2023): A Ghost of Its Former Self

Haunted Mansion (2023): A Ghost of Its Former Self

In 2010, Disney decided to breathe new life into the 2003 horror comedy film, Haunted Mansion, based on the beloved theme park ride. Rather than resurrecting the fun and spooky essence of its predecessor, the highly-anticipated Disney+ arrival of the 2023 version ended up as a frightful waste of everyone’s time.

Originally, Guillermo Del Toro was on board as a producer and writer, aiming to infuse his distinctive blend of horror and humor into the reboot. However, in a deviation from the Del Toro’s orchestration, Katie Dippold – the writer behind Parks and Recreation and 2016’s less-than-appreciated Ghostbusters – stepped in as writer, and Justien Simien, director of Dear White People, took up the directorial reins. A star-studded cast accompanied them: Lakeith Stanfield, Danny DeVito, Owen Wilson, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tiffany Haddish, and more.

Despite the talented ensemble, Haunted Mansion (2023) missed the mark of recapturing the spirited magic of the 2003 version. While the film stays faithful to the original, it lost its most crucial aspects: charm, humor, and family-friendly scares.

There were a few notable moments in the 2023 film when Stanfield’s character – a grieving astrophysicist – explores deep themes of loss. Danny DeVito, as expected, adds a spark of life to every scene he appears in. Nevertheless, these instances weren’t enough to raise the lifeless 2023 version from the dead, rendering it a dull, lackluster experience for viewers.

Ironically, The Muppets’ Haunted Mansion managed to provoke more laughter and engagement than this apparently more “serious” adaptation. Disney’s latest incarnation of Haunted Mansion should have remained tucked away in the unearthed tomb it emerged from.

To have truly revitalized the Haunted Mansion franchise, Disney should have taken a different approach. Retaining Del Toro as the lead creative force would likely have provided the film with a clearer vision and the unique blend of eerie yet family-friendly storytelling it required. Additionally, paying more attention to well-paced, genuinely funny, and spine-chilling moments that graced the original would have resulted in a film more in sync with the spirit of the theme park ride and the first adaptation.

Curious viewers can find the 2023 remake of Haunted Mansion on Disney+ with a subscription, but proceed with caution! This reboot falls far short of its source material and will leave fans of the original clutching at the dissipating, ghostly remnants of a once-beloved franchise.

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