Haunted Mansion: a Disney Cash-In Without Heart

It 'ultimately exists to sell more tickets to Disney World,' writes one critic
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 28, 2023 12:50 PM CDT

Inspired by Disney's theme-park attraction of the same name, Haunted Mansion, a remake of the 2003 film starring Eddie Murphy, sees a single mother (Rosario Dawson) take ownership of a home occupied by various ghosts, which she attempts to banish with help from a medium (Tiffany Haddish), a priest (Owen Wilson), a historian (Danny DeVito), and a physicist who's developed a camera that should be able to detect spirits (LaKeith Stanfield). Scary? No. Funny? Also no, according to critics, who give the PG-13 Disney film a 41% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Four takes:

  • "There is a mansion, it is haunted, boo, blah, the end," writes Manohla Dargis at the New York Times. "That's pretty much all there is to say." She does say more, but her only compliments are for "the appealing cast" and the way director Justin Simien "keeps things moving along, more or less." Otherwise, the film is "all setup and no payoff," not scary or very funny, and "effectively a feature-length Disney promotion," Dargis writes.
  • "Tasked with a tough assignment—generating enthusiasm regarding a reboot of a movie about a theme-park ride—Haunted Mansion does about as well as it could," writes Brian Lowry at CNN. "The actual-movie elements invariably must coexist with servicing the familiar flourishes associated with the ride, an uneasy combination that extracts some of the life from the film," which has "a general flatness to it," he notes. But "it pleasantly rallies at the end."

  • "After a few weeks of riding high on big studio summer fare" (think Barbie and Oppenheimer), this film "is the hard crash back to reality to how these things usually go," writes Adam Graham at the Detroit News. "It's a bunch of recognizable actors playing dress-up, but there's no thought behind it, no heart." The third act in particular is "abominable"—"a senseless barrage of bad CGI effects in service of a story that ultimately exists to sell more tickets to Disney World," Graham writes.
  • "Haunted Mansion doesn't have one-tenth of the wit or imagination of that decades-old attraction. You will, however, definitely feel like you've been taken for a ride in the worst possible way," writes David Fear at Rolling Stone. "A corporate IP Easter-egg hunt posing as a movie, this horror-comedy raids the House of Mouse's resident spoooooky ride's signature bits while nudging your ribs as aggressively as (in)humanly possible," he writes. "Even for die-hard Disney fanatics, it's still about as fun as waiting endlessly in line for something permanently closed for repairs."
(Read more movie review stories.)

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