If you’re feeling spooky all year long, great news: Disney’s Haunted Mansion hits theaters soon.

The movie draws inspiration from the much-loved Disney theme park attraction of the same name. It follows a doctor and her 9-year-old son looking to start a new life in a New Orleans mansion. But they quickly realize their new home isn’t quite what it seems. With the help of a priest, a widowed scientist-turned failed-paranormal expert, a French Quarter psychic, and a crotchety historian, they’ll try to rid the mansion of its many supernatural squatters.

Haunted Mansion stars LaKeith Stanfield, Rosario Dawson, Owen Wilson, Tiffany Haddish, Danny DeVito, and Chase Dillon, with Jamie Lee Curtis and Jared Leto. Justin Simien directs.

The Haunted Mansion Ride Comes To Life

The Haunted Mansion ride remains a long-time favorite for many Disney Parks guests, myself included. So, my favorite part of Haunted Mansion was seeing how the movie brought some of the most recognizable elements from the ride to life on screen. 

You may have caught sight of familiar ride locations in the film’s trailers, like the attic, the cemetery, and the séance room. The movie also pays tribute to plenty of memorable haunting encounters from the ride, like the floating candlestick in the hallway, the dancing ghosts, and the moving marble busts. Plus, the iconic stretching room and the haunted house classic of “portrait whose eyes follow you.”

Jamie Lee Curtis as Madam Leota in her crystal ball in Disney's 'Haunted Mansion'

Fans will also notice plenty of familiar ghosts and ghouls. The Bride, the Hatbox Ghost, and Madam Leota in particular all get some good screen time and expanded lore to further explore their stories. 

All in all, watching Haunted Mansion as a ride fan is like diving into a spooky Easter Egg hunt. I loved getting to pick up on these details. It’s clear that a lot of thought went into preserving the spirit (get it?) of the ride and letting it shine through the movie.

Solid spooks and performances

With a movie like this, you want to be immersed in spooky atmosphere and supernatural action. Haunted Mansion does a nice job here. The variety of ghosts is great, and the mansion itself looks appropriately creepy. All your classic haunted house tropes make an appearance (in a good way).

All in all, the cast also gives solid performances, too. Haddish’s medium, Wilson’s priest, and DeVito’s historian serve as a fun motley ghost hunting crew to add flair to the family dynamic set up by Stanfield, Dawson, and Dillon. The plot also brings themes of grief and loss to the forefront, which works well for a story about ghosts and gives Stanfield in particular some standout moments.

(L to R) Rosario Dawson, Tiffany Haddish, LaKeith Stanfield, and Owen Wilson in Haunted Mansion

Bringing that stalled-out Doom Buggy energy

You know how every time you ride The Haunted Mansion at Disney, your Doom Buggy inevitably stalls at some point? And you just sit there listening to the Ghost Host repeat his spiel, waiting for the ride to get moving again? Well, unfortunately, the movie brings a bit of that energy too.

Put simply, Haunted Mansion clocks in at just over 2 hours, and that feels too long. There are comedic bits that definitely overstay their welcome, as well as expository scenes which feel repetitive and redundant. Sometimes it felt like the movie just couldn’t stop itself from doing things the hard way. (Why did the gang have to travel to a different haunted house to capture the final MacGuffin? This haunted mansion has plenty of room to hold more secrets! Did we really need this detour?) 

Ultimately, I wanted to summon The Bride and her ax to do some chopping on this one. If this movie was 20 minutes shorter, it would streamline and improve some of the film’s emotional moments and keep up the more heart-pounding pace you want out of a spooky movie. As it is, Haunted Mansion comes off a little too bloated to maintain the ideal comedic and creepy momentum. To use a theme park metaphor… it’s a ride I’d sit through once, but it’s not snagging a spot on my “must ride” list any time soon.

Haunted Mansion premieres in theaters July 28.

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