- Awards Season
- Big Stories
- Pop Culture
- Video Games
Disney Movie Mistakes That Will Leave You Scratching Your Head
Disney is one of the biggest names in the film industry, which means the company has a lot of money available to make its movies nothing less than perfect. But just like Mulan’s attempt to battle in disguise, not everything goes smoothly. In fact, Disney movies have quite a few mistakes, plot holes and inconsistencies that you may or may not have noticed before.
Most people don’t spot all of these errors on their own without someone else pointing them out. But, a warning: Once you discover these mistakes, the films will never be the same again.
Cinderella Had a One-of-a-Kind Shoe Size
Cinderella starts out as the servant to her malicious stepmother and stepsisters, but after meeting her Fairy Godmother, her luck changes. The Fairy Godmother gets Cinderella the fancy attire to attend a prince’s ball, where the two hit it off. However, her midnight curfew has Cinderella running, leaving her glass slipper behind.
The prince then vows to marry the girl whose foot fits into that slipper, but Cinderella gets trapped by her evil stepfamily. What’s strange is that her shoe size was so unique that, of the entire nearby population of young women, no one else’s foot fit into the slipper.
Elsa’s Shackles Should Have Shattered
At one point in Frozen, a Disney film that has become a favorite for children and adults across the globe, Elsa is locked up waiting to hear her sentencing. Her shackles are made of metal. Using her powers to create ice, she frees herself from the shackles. However, the shackles bend as she uses her ice power, and that goes against science.
Very cold temperatures cause metal to shatter, not bend. It’s when metal is heated up that it becomes malleable and can bend. Due to the excitement of Elsa freeing herself, most people probably didn’t think twice about this.
Mulan Couldn’t Have Fooled Everyone That Long
Based on medieval Chinese folklore, Mulan is the story of a young girl who joins the armed forces disguised as a man so she can help defend her country’s honor. She does prove herself to be quite a capable soldier, and at the time, that could maybe have led her fellow soldiers to believe she was a man — but probably not.
Mulan is with her soldier peers all day, every day, for a long time. It’s highly unrealistic to think that no one would have figured out her biological sex. Needless to say, that’s a pretty significant, questionable plot element.
Ariel’s Hair Is Always Dry
The Little Mermaid is a Disney classic following the adventures of mermaid princess Ariel. Underwater life was just not enough for her, especially when she rescued and fell in love with a human prince and found a way (through some dark magic) to be with him on land.
One very curious thing is that Ariel’s hair, no matter if she’s underwater, recently out of the water or out of water for a long time, is always dry. Do mermaids have an altogether different kind of hair that never gets wet? They must.
The Beast Should’ve Been Younger in His Old Portrait
In Beauty and the Beast, a curse turned a young, handsome and egotistical young prince into a monstrous animal. The curse stipulated that the only way the Beast could return to his human form was if he could find true love before he turned 21.
One remnant in the movie of the Beast’s former human life is a portrait Belle finds in a hidden room in the castle. Since the Beast has been under the curse for a decade, that should have made him 11 years old in the portrait. However, he looks much older.
Tarzan’s American Accent Doesn’t Make Sense
Tarzan, as a baby, was raised in the jungle by apes. When he reaches adulthood, he finally encounters an English man and his daughter Jane, who end up teaching him English. Before this, we can safely assume that the only language Tarzan spoke was that of the jungle.
Once he learns to speak, though, he speaks like an American. How can this be the case when his only exposure to the language comes from English people with English accents? By all accounts, Tarzan should most definitely share the same accent.
Roger and Anita Must Have Had a Secret Trust Fund
Having one dog is not necessarily cheap. Having 101 dogs, like in Disney’s 101 Dalmatians, requires a lot of money. It’s probably safe to say that anyone who embarks on such an endeavor should have a lot of disposable income. The couple who own the dogs, Roger and Anita, don’t appear to be all that financially comfortable, though.
Roger is a songwriter struggling to make it in the industry, and Anita’s career remains unknown. The only way this could’ve worked is if the couple somehow inherited a large sum of money in order to afford raising so many dogs.
Finding Dory Got Its Octopus Biology Wrong
One of the characters in Finding Dory, Hank the octopus, is known for only having seven arms. Apparently, he lost one of his arms in an incident. This would be fine, except octopus biology is a bit more awesome than human biology where missing limbs are concerned.
When an octopus loses an arm, it doesn’t take long for the creature to grow a new one. So, it doesn’t make sense that Hank only has seven arms. At the very least, a new one should be growing in at some point during the movie.
Rapunzel’s Parents Never Sent a Search Team
Tangled is the story of Princess Rapunzel, who is kidnapped by a wicked woman named Mother Gothel. Instead of panicking and using all of their royal resources to find their daughter, Rapunzel’s parents have an annual birthday party for her instead, thinking she’ll miraculously turn up to celebrate.
Meanwhile, Rapunzel is locked in a tower — a tower that isn’t particularly well-hidden, either. The fact that Rapunzel’s parents never thought to formally search for her or check to see if she was in that ominous tower seems a bit peculiar and unrealistic.
Princess Jasmine in a Hood Still Looks Like Princess Jasmine
Princess Jasmine and “street rat” Aladdin first meet in the streets of Agrabah because Jasmine has grown tired of the fakeness and isolation of her royal life. In order to escape the castle, she disguises herself in a cloak with a big hood. This is apparently enough for no one to realize who she is.
Meanwhile, under her cloak and hood, she’s still wearing her fancy princess clothes and her big gold earrings, which are constantly peeking out. That fact that no one would recognize her as the princess is simply absurd.
Pocahontas and John Smith Never Fell in Love
Disney’s version of Pocahontas is far from historically accurate. Pocahontas and John Smith did not fall in love when they met, in part because John was 27 years old and Pocahontas was around 9 or 10 years old. No romance occurred between them whatsoever.
They did develop a sort of friendship, the kind a child and an adult can sometimes have, though that’s it. As far as Pocahontas saving John’s life goes, that’s false too. While the changes Disney made were certainly entertaining, they shouldn’t serve as a history lesson.
WALL-E Never Actually Compacts Trash
The premise of Disney’s WALL-E is that humans have deserted Earth and are living in space. What remains on Earth are millions of robots called WALL-E units designed to clean up the planet by compacting all the trash left behind so that humans can come back someday.
The main WALL-E character never actually seems to compact any trash though. What he does is simply reshape the garbage he finds into something of a similar size — hardly what he was built for. If WALL-E was a dysfunctional model, that probably should have been mentioned.
Nala’s Eye Color Is Always Changing
One of Disney’s most famous movies is The Lion King, and no mistake in its production will ever take that honor away. That being said, there’s a glaring error in the film that deserves mentioning. Simba’s supportive lady-friend, Nala, has a constantly shifting eye color. In one moment her eyes are blue. In the next, they’re green.
An animal’s eye color can change over the course of its life, but not from moment to moment as it does for Nala. Fans don’t seem to mind though, likely because the plot of the movie is just too good.
The Incredibles Makes an Accidental Jump Into the Future
The Incredibles is set in the 1960s, taking place just after the golden age of superheroes. The movie makes it clear that Mr. Incredible wasn’t pleased about his job ending though, which we know from all the newspaper clippings he still has hanging in his office, left over from his old life.
Disney’s error comes in when Mr. Incredible starts thinking about getting back to his superhero life and the movie pans to a faded newspaper page on his wall with the date September 16, 2002. That date had to be a mistake; that would have been 40 years in the future.
There Are Laughter-filled Inconsistencies in Monsters, Inc.
In Monsters, Inc., we find out that the city of Monstropolis gets its power from children’s screams. When one child, Boo, thinks monsters are funny rather than scary, she ends up giggling a lot when they come to frighten her. It’s then revealed that her laughter is actually more powerful than the screams.
In fact, her giggles leave Monstropolis with major power outages. This wouldn’t be an issue except that Boo has been laughing the entire film. Yet, her early laughter in the movie has no effect. Why does it suddenly have such power?
Brave Has a Big Costuming Error
One of the coolest things about Disney’s Brave is that the main character, a girl named Merida, by choice doesn’t end up with a prince; she remains happily independent instead. This is real feminism displayed by Disney, and that element is hard to overlook.
Still, one part of the movie gets it all wrong. Historically speaking, Brave takes place during the 10th century. During this time period in Scotland, women did not wear headdresses and men weren’t wearing body paint much anymore. This is a bit of flubbing on the part of the producers, who must have overlooked some history-related details.
Belle’s Sudden Superhuman Strength Is Puzzling
The 1990s were a crucial era for Disney: They created hit movie after hit movie, including Beauty and the Beast. A major turning point in the film is when Belle runs from Beast’s castle, only to be surrounded by a pack of wolves. Beast comes to her rescue but is injured in the process.
We then see Beast draped over Belle’s horse on their way back to the castle. How on Earth did Belle manage to get the Beast onto that horse? He’s a huge guy, after all, and she’s a petite woman who doesn’t exactly look like a bodybuilder.
The Toy Story Humans Are Incredibly Unaware
In all the Toy Story movies, the toys come to life when no one is around. The trick is that when humans are with them, they drop to their standard inanimate-toy state. Usually, they’ve moved around quite a bit. It seems hard to believe that humans would never notice their toys aren’t where they left them.
Aside from that, the toys have pretty active lives. The fact that no human ever catches a glimpse of them moving around like people is unrealistic, especially because they tend to go outside a lot.
Ariel Is Not the Slightest Bit Reluctant to Eat Seafood
In The Little Mermaid, Ariel’s friends are sea creatures of all kinds. Most of her life took place under the sea , surrounded by fish. It’s strange, then, that when she’s with Prince Eric on land and his chef brings out freshly cooked seafood, Ariel doesn’t even bat an eye.
While she’s concerned that her pal Sebastian the crab is on a platter (still alive, luckily), the rest of the fish? She couldn’t care less about them. What if she’d been hanging out with some of those fish earlier that week?
A Mysterious Poster Appears in Finding Nemo
There’s a scene in Finding Nemo in which Nigel (the pelican) makes a big ruckus at a dentist’s office to distract the dentist from the fish escaping the tank. It’s actually quite an amusing vignette, full of fun and excitement. However, there’s just one little problem.
When the pelican enters the office, viewers can see that the wall has nothing on it. Later, when the dentist manages to get the bird out, there’s suddenly a poster on that once-plain wall. This should’ve been noticed and fixed during post-production, but it wasn’t.
There’s a Problem With the Great Wall of China in Mulan
Disney’s Mulan is based on a true story, with Mulan disguising herself as a man in order to join the army and defend the Emperor sometime between the years 386 and 538. Knowing these dates, there’s a historical error in the movie’s portrayal of the Great Wall of China.
A version of the Great Wall of China, called the Qin wall, was originally built in the third century B.C., but it looked nothing like the one we know today, which was built about 600 years ago. Disney’s Mulan mistakenly presents this newer Great Wall.
The Caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland Changed Colors
The scene in the forest between Alice and the smoking caterpillar during the Disney cult classic Alice in Wonderland is hard to forget. It’s the one in which he sternly yells at Alice, “Keep your temper!” While he’s admonishing her, he momentarily turns red, but then he goes back to blue.
Normally, he has a dark blue belly and a light blue back, but this scene mistakenly reverses his coloring. Perhaps that’s easy to overlook, given the psychedelic quality of the whole movie. The colors, shapes and sizes of objects are changing all the time, after all.
Cinderella Would Never Have Set Up a Mouse Trap
Poor Cinderella’s only friends are the mice in the house where her stepmother and stepsisters have turned her into a servant. She’s in charge of all the household chores. It’s odd, then, that her friend Gus, a mouse, is at one point caught in a mousetrap. Cinderella is shown helping him escape.
The inconsistency here is that the only person who would’ve set up the mousetrap in the first place is Cinderella. Surely the cruel stepmother and stepsisters wouldn’t bother themselves with that task. There’s no way Cinderella would do that to one of her only friends, either.
They Didn’t Use Enough Balloons to Lift the House in Up
The movie Up has a logistical issue at its center. The premise is that a house takes flight with the help of lots and lots of balloons lifting it into the air. Of course, there must be a suspension of disbelief to go along with this idea, especially considering that the house would’ve been affixed to the ground with plumbing pipes and electric lines.
Still, the film’s producers researched the number of balloons it would take to make this premise realistic. Unsurprisingly, they couldn’t find a scientific solution, likely because there isn’t one. They went along with their best guess anyway.
Not Even Snow White Could Breathe Inside Glass
After Snow White eats the poisoned apple and the seven dwarves presume she has died, the dwarves take care of her. They can’t bear to bury her in the ground, so they place her in a glass coffin instead. That does seem like a lovely sentiment, but humans need air to breathe, even when they’re in an apple-poison coma.
Snow White wouldn’t have been able to breathe inside of the glass coffin for too long. She was in there for three days (longer in some legends) before the prince came and kissed her. That’s a long time to hold your breath!
Anton Ego Made an Illogical Insult
Disney’s Ratatouille is a foodie favorite. One of the main characters is a food critic named Anton Ego. At one point, Ego recalls his final scathing review of Gusteau’s restaurant in which he likens the chef to a supposedly lowly food figure, Chef Boyardee — a brand of low-quality canned pasta dishes.
Historically, however, Hector Boiardi was an award-winning chef at the Plaza Hotel in New York long before he started his canned-food business. If only Ratatouille ‘s producers had researched this, they wouldn’t have made Anton Ego look so uneducated — or was that the point?
Of Course Moana Wants to Be Near Water
In Disney’s Moana, the title character, a teenage girl, is ordered by her parents to stay away from the water. Despite their tribe’s deep history with the ocean, getting too close to the water has become dangerous because of a curse from the demigod Maui. It’s not the easiest thing to stay away from either, considering the film is set among Polynesian islands.
However, if Moana’s parents were so set on her staying away from the water, perhaps they shouldn’t have named her Moana, which means “large body of water” in the Hawaiian and Maori languages.
Goofy Has a Pet Dog
Goofy is one of the original Disney characters, along with Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy’s dog, Pluto. Considering the majority of these animals are anthropomorphic, it’s a bit strange that one of them, Pluto, is still a pet. What’s even more alarming is that Goofy is a dog, and he also has a pet dog that he walks on a leash.
Why do some animals get to be normal citizens and others end up like Pluto — just regular pets? When you think about it, it really doesn’t make sense.
Lilo Never Got Swooped Up by Social Services
The Disney flick Lilo & Stitch follows Lilo, a little girl whose older sister Nani takes care of her. Throughout the movie, social services is always watching them, so Lilo being taken from her sister is a real threat. You wouldn’t necessarily know that by Nani’s actions though.
Lilo is, for some reason, given more freedom than almost any small child should have. She’s always wandering around in public all alone, which is how she comes to meet an alien in the first place. Child protective services almost certainly would’ve taken Lilo away if they’d known.
Buzz Lightyear’s Behavior Isn’t Consistent
The toys in Toy Story only come alive when humans aren’t around. When humans are around, Woody and friends immediately drop to the floor. In the first Toy Story, Buzz Lightyear doesn’t realize he’s a toy, though. He thinks he’s a real space ranger.
It doesn’t make sense, then, that Buzz would freeze when humans are around if he doesn’t think he’s a toy. But he freezes anyway. This is a questionable element of the movie, but it’s hard to mind too much when it’s such a fun film to watch.
MORE FROM ASK.COM
Log in or sign up for Rotten Tomatoes
Trouble logging in?
Email not verified
Let's keep in touch.
Sign up for the Rotten Tomatoes newsletter to get weekly updates on:
- Upcoming Movies and TV shows
- Trivia & Rotter Tomatoes Podcast
- Media News + More
OK, got it!
Movies / TV
No results found.
- What's the Tomatometer®?
Movies in theaters
- Opening this week
- Coming soon to theaters
- Certified fresh movies
Movies at home
- Netflix streaming
- Amazon prime
- Most popular streaming movies
- What to Watch New
Certified fresh picks
- Killers of the Flower Moon Link to Killers of the Flower Moon
- The Holdovers Link to The Holdovers
- Nyad Link to Nyad
New TV Tonight
- Fellow Travelers: Season 1
- American Horror Stories: Season 3
- Shoresy: Season 2
- 30 Coins: Season 2
- Life on Our Planet: Season 1
- Native America: Season 2
- The Enfield Poltergeist: Season 1
- Pluto: Season 1
Most Popular TV on RT
- Bodies: Season 1
- Sex Education: Season 4
- The Fall of the House of Usher: Season 1
- Lessons in Chemistry: Season 1
- Goosebumps: Season 1
- Rick and Morty: Season 7
- Loki: Season 2
- Scavengers Reign: Season 1
- Gen V: Season 1
- Top TV Shows
- Certified Fresh TV
- Most popular TV
Certified fresh pick
- Lessons in Chemistry: Season 1 Link to Lessons in Chemistry: Season 1
- All-Time Lists
- Binge Guide
- Comics on TV
- Five Favorite Films
- Video Interviews
- Weekend Box Office
- Weekly Ketchup
- What to Watch
200 Best Horror Movies of All Time
61 Best Concert Movies of All Time
What to Watch: In Theaters and On Streaming
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage
The Ultimate TV Fang-Off: Vote for the Best Vampire
TV Premiere Dates 2023
- Trending on RT
- Shop Rotten Tomatoes
- Five Nights at Freddy's
- Killers of the Flower Moon
- Latest TM Scores
2023, Fantasy/Comedy, 2h 3m
What to know
Haunted Mansion 's talented cast makes the movie a pleasant enough destination, although it's neither scary nor funny enough to wholeheartedly recommend. Read critic reviews
Haunted Mansion is a fun blend of horror and comedy with a great cast and a story that'll be extra entertaining for fans of the ride that inspired it. Read audience reviews
Halloween on DIsney+
Where to watch Haunted Mansion
Watch Haunted Mansion with a subscription on Disney+, rent on Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, or buy on Amazon Prime Video, Vudu.
Rate And Review
Rate this movie
Oof, that was Rotten.
Meh, it passed the time.
It’s good – I’d recommend it.
So Fresh: Absolute Must See!
What did you think of the movie? (optional)
You're almost there! Just confirm how you got your ticket.
Step 2 of 2
How did you buy your ticket?
Let's get your review verified..
AMCTheatres.com or AMC App New
Cinemark Coming Soon
We won’t be able to verify your ticket today, but it’s great to know for the future.
Regal Coming Soon
Theater box office or somewhere else
By opting to have your ticket verified for this movie, you are allowing us to check the email address associated with your Rotten Tomatoes account against an email address associated with a Fandango ticket purchase for the same movie.
You're almost there! Just confirm how you got your ticket.
Haunted mansion videos, haunted mansion photos.
A woman and her son enlist a motley crew of so-called spiritual experts to help rid their home of supernatural squatters.
Rating: PG-13 (Some Thematic Elements|Scary Action)
Genre: Fantasy, Comedy
Original Language: English
Director: Justin Simien
Producer: Dan Lin , Jonathan Eirich
Writer: Katie Dippold
Release Date (Theaters): Jul 28, 2023 wide
Release Date (Streaming): Oct 4, 2023
Box Office (Gross USA): $67.5M
Runtime: 2h 3m
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures
Production Co: Rideback, Disney+
Sound Mix: Dolby Digital, DTS, Dolby Atmos
Aspect Ratio: Digital 2.39:1
Cast & Crew
Chase W. Dillon
Jamie Lee Curtis
Tom C. Peitzman
Phillip J. Bartell
Shawn D. Bronson
Victor J. Zolfo
News & Interviews for Haunted Mansion
Weekend Box Office Results: Barbie Dominates Again in Second Weekend
What to Watch This Week: Twisted Metal , Talk to Me , and More
The Haunted Mansion Cast on Easter Eggs, Favorite Ghosts, and Acting with Jamie Lee Curtis’ Head
Critic Reviews for Haunted Mansion
Audience reviews for haunted mansion.
There are no featured audience reviews for Haunted Mansion at this time.
Movie & TV guides
Rotten Tomatoes Gifts Cards
RT Podcasts: Rotten Tomatoes is Wrong
Rotten Tomatoes: The Card Game
What to Watch - In theaters & streaming
- For Parents
- For Educators
- Our Work and Impact
Or browse by category:
- Movie Reviews
- Best Movie Lists
- Best Movies on Netflix, Disney+, and More
Common Sense Selections for Movies
50 Modern Movies All Kids Should Watch Before They're 12
- Best TV Lists
- Best TV Shows on Netflix, Disney+, and More
- Common Sense Selections for TV
- Video Reviews of TV Shows
Best Kids' Shows on Disney+
Best Kids' TV Shows on Netflix
- Book Reviews
- Best Book Lists
- Common Sense Selections for Books
8 Tips for Getting Kids Hooked on Books
50 Books All Kids Should Read Before They're 12
- Game Reviews
- Best Game Lists
Common Sense Selections for Games
- Video Reviews of Games
Nintendo Switch Games for Family Fun
- Podcast Reviews
- Best Podcast Lists
Common Sense Selections for Podcasts
Parents' Guide to Podcasts
- App Reviews
- Best App Lists
Social Networking for Teens
Gun-Free Action Game Apps
- YouTube Channel Reviews
- YouTube Kids Channels by Topic
Parents' Ultimate Guide to YouTube Kids
YouTube Kids Channels for Gamers
- Preschoolers (2-4)
- Little Kids (5-7)
- Big Kids (8-9)
- Pre-Teens (10-12)
- Teens (13+)
- Screen Time
- Social Media
- Online Safety
- Identity and Community
Explaining the News to Our Kids
- All Articles
- Family Tech Planners
- Latino Culture
- Black Voices
- Asian Stories
- Native Narratives
- LGBTQ+ Pride
Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!
Celebrate Hip-Hop's 50th Anniversary
Movies and TV Shows with Arab Leads
Want more recommendations for your family?
Sign up for our weekly newsletter for entertainment inspiration
Common sense media reviewers.
Ghostly comedy is a spirited ride with peril, some scares.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The specifically stated message is that "Grief can
Characters show compassion and bravery, using team
Written by female screenwriter Katie Dippold and d
Suggested death via suicide: A character drinks so
Flashbacks to Ben and Alyssa falling in love and B
Many brand and store names mentioned. A Burger Kin
Frequent drinking by several adult characters, inc
Parents need to know that Haunted Mansion is a tween-friendly supernatural comedy that's the second movie inspired by the classic Disney theme park ride (the first was released in 2003). The frights are similar to horror-comedy classics like Ghostbusters and Beetlejuice : Spirits have an edge…
The specifically stated message is that "Grief can be a doorway to joy, if one's willing to work on it." But it's more likely to be understood as "we can't let grief consume us." Either way, the film supports the expression of loss and grief, which is a positive thing.
Positive Role Models
Characters show compassion and bravery, using teamwork to face terrifying ghouls in an effort to bring peace to the captured souls. Characters are allowed to experience grief in vulnerable ways and find support through those around them, finding connection.
Written by female screenwriter Katie Dippold and directed by Justin Simien (who's Black and gay). Diverse cast: Main characters include Black actors LaKeith Stanfield, Tiffany Haddish, and multiracial actor Rosario Dawson (Afro-Latino with Native ancestry), as well as White actors Owen Wilson and Danny DeVito. Centers around romantic and familial love between characters of color and shows Black characters' humanity and vulnerability.
Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.
Violence & Scariness
Suggested death via suicide: A character drinks something that would kill him, and his body is shown lying on the floor next to the bottle. Ghouls, ghosts, and skeletons abound -- including some without heads. Jump scares. A "black widow" type of bride repeatedly flings her ax at the characters. A duel, which leads to the duelers' demise. Character hit by a car, but the scene cuts before impact. Lots of peril. Alligator chases and snaps at characters. Supernatural elements like dark magic, seances, the appearance of a Ouija board.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Flashbacks to Ben and Alyssa falling in love and Ben proposing. Characters hug and embrace. Implied romantic interest through lingering looks and knowing smiles. Characters discuss spouses who've passed away.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.
Products & Purchases
Many brand and store names mentioned. A Burger King bag is shown; lingering shot of the logo and a mention of one of their food items, indicating likely product placement. The movie is based on an iconic Disneyland ride.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Frequent drinking by several adult characters, including to indicate deep depression and to build courage.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Haunted Mansion is a tween-friendly supernatural comedy that's the second movie inspired by the classic Disney theme park ride (the first was released in 2003 ). The frights are similar to horror-comedy classics like Ghostbusters and Beetlejuice : Spirits have an edge of silliness to them, but a couple (like an ax-wielding bride with demon eyes) are genuinely unsettling. Ghosts swirl through the screen in bulk, and characters -- including a child -- are in constant peril. All of this makes the movie more appropriate for older tweens and teens than younger or more sensitive children. Kids who do want to have the (often powerful) experience of "surviving" watching a scary movie will definitely feel like they're watching a fright fest -- but it's creepy, not screamy, and it's balanced with a sense of humor. Themes do touch on moving on after death and loss (for both the spirits and for living characters who are mourning the loss of a loved one). Adult characters drink throughout, and there are hugs/embraces and references to romance and departed spouses. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails .
Where to Watch
Videos and photos.
- Parents say (18)
- Kids say (14)
Based on 18 parent reviews
A child nearly commits suicide in this movie
Moderate scares with a great message about grief and working as a team, what's the story.
In HAUNTED MANSION, single mom Gabbie ( Rosario Dawson ) and her 9-year-old son, Travis (Chase W. Dillon), move into a New Orleans mansion that's filled with long-buried secrets -- and several unpleasant ghosts. Hoping to cleanse the house of the evil within, Gabbie hires a scrappy team of paranormal experts to help.
Is It Any Good?
Satisfactorily spooky and just the right amount of scary for tweens and young teens, director Justin Simien 's film is a true adaptation of the iconic Disney attraction. And in this case, "true" means more accurate than the actual Haunted Mansion ride itself, which was created in 1969 and, although set in New Orleans, didn't feature any people of color. Simien corrects that disconnect by casting Black actors in the primary roles and infusing the movie's backdrop with the sounds, sights, and culture of the Crescent City, from alligators to zydeco.
That said, the ride probably has more twists than this film. The story is pretty routine: There's a problem (a haunted house), we meet the experts who will solve the problem, and then they solve it. The humor level is enough to keep a feeling of lightness, which balances the specters on screen. Many of the characters are mourning the loss of a loved one, and the movie does address this with real heart. As a way to spend a couple of hours as a family, this fright-light comedy is a hauntingly good time. Still, a matinee may be advisable to give kids a few hours of daylight to process everything, in case -- just like in the ride -- an apparition jumps into the backseat of a kid's brain and follows them home.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how Haunted Mansion compares with other haunted house movies. Were the scary moments too scary? How much scary stuff can young kids handle?
Discuss the movie's message. Do you agree that death isn't the end, but the beginning of a new chapter?
What elements of New Orleans culture did you notice? How does the jazz "second line" funeral connect with the film's theme?
Considering how little iffy content is in this movie (other than the scares!), why do you think drinking was included?
Do you believe in ghosts? Why, or why not?
- In theaters : July 28, 2023
- On DVD or streaming : October 4, 2023
- Cast : LaKeith Stanfield , Rosario Dawson , Jamie Lee Curtis
- Director : Justin Simien
- Inclusion Information : Gay directors, Black directors, Black actors, Female actors, Indigenous actors, Latino actors, Female writers
- Studio : Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
- Genre : Comedy
- Topics : Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Character Strengths : Compassion , Courage , Teamwork
- Run time : 122 minutes
- MPAA rating : PG-13
- MPAA explanation : some thematic elements and scary action
- Last updated : October 21, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Our editors recommend.
We Have a Ghost
Muppets Haunted Mansion
Scary (But Not TOO Scary!) Halloween Movies
Scary games (but not too scary), related topics.
- Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
Want suggestions based on your streaming services? Get personalized recommendations
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Haunted Mansion (2023)
- User Reviews
Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews
- User Ratings
- External Reviews
- Metacritic Reviews
- Full Cast and Crew
- Release Dates
- Official Sites
- Company Credits
- Filming & Production
- Technical Specs
- Plot Summary
- Plot Keywords
- Parents Guide
Did You Know?
- Crazy Credits
- Alternate Versions
Photo & Video
- Photo Gallery
- Trailers and Videos
- External Sites
Related lists from IMDb users
Tv/streaming, collections, great movies, chaz's journal, contributors, haunted mansion.
Now streaming on:
From the original ride to now-three of film adaptations, Disney's Haunted Mansion is properly cemented into the company’s spooky canon. This installment is in line behind 2003’s nostalgic Eddie Murphy chapter and 2021’s Muppets edition. Justin Simien (“ Dear White People ,” “Bad Hair") directs this return to a Black-led live-action iteration of the story.
The simple plot lends to simple execution across the board. Single mother Gabbie ( Rosario Dawson ) has moved into the antique house of her dreams with her nine-year-old son Travis ( Chase Dillon ). But not long after stepping into the home, they become blatantly aware of the spirited tenants occupying the creepy abode. Enlisting the help of grieving astrophysicist Ben ( LaKeith Stanfield ), priest Father Kent ( Owen Wilson ), medium Harriet ( Tiffany Haddish ), and haunted house expert Professor Bruce Davis ( Danny DeVito ), the gang hopes to put their heads together to rid the house of its supernatural tormentors.
“Haunted Mansion” is star-studded but shoddy at best. Despite the talent of writer Katie Dippold (“ The Heat ” “Parks and Recreation”), the script’s punchlines are forced and flat. Everyone is doled their share of one-liners, but Wilson and Haddish carry most of the weight. While Wilson often runs dry, Haddish delivers in her classic tone and cadence, executing flimsy jokes to her best ability. The script does toe the line of Disney’s boundaries, tossing in some light innuendos in a somewhat concerted effort to draw in more mature audiences.
Simien's film does display its fun-loving origins in how the house can transform into a surrealist landscape. Halls that never end, ceilings that extend into impossibility, gargoyles, hidden rooms, and the ever-so-classic ghost-inhabited portraits recall nostalgia for the film’s classic Gothicism. “Haunted Mansion” boasts a handful of playful chases and spooky sequences, but they’re fleeting and soon bring us back to the film’s stuttering pace. It's hard to find any true tension in "Haunted Mansion" until the climactic faceoff in the third act.
Perhaps the greatest letdown of Simien's movie is how little the cast delivers. The ensemble is brimming with lively, prolific candidates, yet the script hardly seems to keep this in mind. Their talents are either underused or misdirected. Stanfield’s Ben mourns the loss of his wife, his grief becoming a cornerstone of the story. Yet while we’ve seen Stanfield display emotional depth in other roles, every tearful moment feels like a soap opera, not on account of sentiment, but performance. There’s a sense of watered-down contrivance across the board. The forced, postured will-they won’t-they romance between Stanfield and Dawson showcases this also. And with seasoned comedic actors in Wilson, DeVito, and Haddish, too few of their comedy efforts actually hit.
“Haunted Mansion” is constructed with the familiar bricks of a Gothic tale, down to the theme of grief that runs throughout. There’s a thoughtful examination of how grief makes us vulnerable while also being able to harness the power of that love to connect with one another and appreciate the lives we lead. There’s also value for family audiences in the nostalgic spookiness that rides along the surface. But with a repeated sourness in the film’s comedic efforts and a tragically misused ensemble, “Haunted Mansion” misses the chance to become a Halloween classic.
In theaters now.
Peyton Robinson is a freelance film writer based in Chicago, IL.
She Came to Me
Silver Dollar Road
The Continental: From the World of John Wick
The Origin of Evil
Something You Said Last Night
Monica castillo, film credits.
Haunted Mansion (2023)
Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements and scary action.
Rosario Dawson as Gabbie
Chase W. Dillon as Travis
LaKeith Stanfield as Ben Matthias
Owen Wilson as Father Kent
Tiffany Haddish as Harriet
Danny DeVito as Bruce Davis
Jamie Lee Curtis as Madame Leota
Winona Ryder as Pat
Jared Leto as Crump / Hatbox
- Justin Simien
- Katie Dippold
- Jeffrey Waldron
- Phillip J. Bartell
- Kris Bowers
Latest blog posts
The Power of Community: Steve Cohen and Paula Froehle on the Chicago Media Project’s A Decade of Docs Fundraiser on October 28th
CIFF 2023: The Space Race, Food Roots, The Echo
Lords of the Fallen Transports Gamers to Hell and Back
CIFF 2023: Robot Dreams, The Crime is Mine, Limbo
Is ‘Haunted Mansion’ a family-friendly movie? A look at why the movie is rated PG-13
Worried about taking your kids to the horror-comedy here is why ‘haunted mansion’ earned a pg-13 rating.
This image released by Disney Enterprises shows, from left, Owen Wilson, Rosario Dawson, LaKeith Stanfield, Tiffany Haddish and Danny DeVito in a scene from “Haunted Mansion.”
Disney Enterprises via Associated Press
It’s been 20 years since “The Haunted Mansion,” starring Eddie Murphy, landed in theaters. Now comes the spooky movie’s PG-13 sequel. The 2003 “Haunted Mansion” movie was made for young audiences, but the sequel is expected to be a little scarier and directed at older audiences.
“This one’s a fun one and it’s PG-13. The thing that was great about Eddie’s was that it was PG, so a lot of my friends’ kids could watch it a little younger,” Rosario Dawson, who stars in “Haunted Mansion,” told People .
“I’m having to get people to get babysitters to watch mine ‘cause it’s a little older. But it’s good. It’s a nice continuation of the theme and the world, but they’re two very separate films.”
“Haunted Mansion” earned a PG-13 rating for violence and frightening scenes. Let’s take a deeper look at what parents can expect from “Haunted Mansion” and why it is rated PG-13.
Why is ‘Haunted Mansion’ rated PG-13?
According to Common Sense Media , “Haunted Mansion” is rated PG-13 for violence, frightening scenes, supernatural elements such as dark magic and the appearance of a Ouija board and some alcohol use. The site recommends the movie for kids 11 years old and older.
“Haunted Mansion” is not rated PG-13 for language. According to IMDb , there is very little profanity in the movie.
Common Sense Media praised the film for featuring diverse representation and positive messages, such as learning to understand and express grief.
“Parents need to know that ‘Haunted Mansion’ is a tween-friendly supernatural comedy,” writes Common Sense Media . “Spirits have an edge of silliness to them, but a couple (like an axe-wielding bride with demon eyes) are genuinely unsettling. Ghosts swirl through the screen in bulk, and characters — including a child — are in constant peril. All of this makes the movie more appropriate for older tweens and teens than younger or more sensitive children.”
The Motion Picture Association gave “Haunted Mansion” a PG-13 rating for some thematic elements and scary action, according to IMDb .
- Haven’t made it to theaters yet? Here are the top 5 movies to watch this summer
‘Haunted Mansion’ features frightening scenes
“Haunted Mansion” is full of frightening scenes that might not be suitable for young children.
There are countless scenes with supernatural violence, according to Parent Previews . Suicide is mentioned, a character is seen possessed, people are chased by ghosts, there are frequent mentions of death, and a child sees his dead mother in a casket. Children are seen in peril.
‘Haunted Mansion’ is a comedy based on a Disneyland ride
The spooky film balances scary scenes with humor — just like the beloved Disneyland ride. “Haunted Mansion” is actually filled with references to the California theme park ride, according to USA Today .
Director Justin Simien revealed in an interview with MovieWeb that his connection to “Haunted Mansion” dates back to his childhood experiences on the Disneyland ride.
“That’s how the ride was made, it was a back and forth. They could not decide if this ride should be funny or scary, or for children or for adults. These are the actual conversations that Walt Disney and the Imagineers had making the ride,” director Justin Simien told MovieWeb . “They somehow landed on this weird, magical formula.”
“It has this wonderful mix of humor and tragedy. It doesn’t pull punches,” added Simien. “You see a man hanging from the stretching room the moment it starts. You’re literally moving through a graveyard. This is a scary, weird ride. It was one that I rode at 9 years old. It made me feel like I could handle scary stuff. It didn’t take me out of the fight.”
“It became something that I could ride over and over again. I grew up, still really enjoying it, and feel like it spoke to me. That was the guiding star,” he explained. “My brain just kind of functions that way. It’s a tragic comedy at all times in here. It felt very natural to me.”
Despite being filled with spooky scenes, for older kids, “Haunted Mansion” is mostly a comedy. The majority of scary scenes are brief and followed with comedic relief.
- Is ‘Barbie’ a family-friendly movie? A look at why the upcoming movie is rated PG-13
Critics are calling ‘Haunted Mansion’ a ‘family-friendly horror-comedy’
Early critic reviews of “Haunted Mansion” are categorizing the movie under “family-friendly.”
“Family-friendly horror-comedies have always been a tough subgenre: You need the scares to prove your horror bona fides, but go too far and the children will run screaming from the theater; rely too much on comedy and you’ll undermine the thrills,” wrote Vulture . “That’s a lot to ask of any film. It’s amazing that anything in ‘Haunted Mansion’ works.”
“This ghoulish gathering is a family-friendly affair,” wrote USA Today . “‘Haunted Mansion’ pulls off a pleasant and fantastical brush with the hereafter and is a good first horror movie for youngsters where a ghostly mummy won’t have them running for their mommy.”
When does ‘Haunted Mansion’ come out?
“Haunted Mansion” was released in theaters on July 28.
Watch the trailer for ‘Haunted Mansion’ below
‘Haunted Mansion’ Review: A Disney Ride to Nowhere Fun
Starring LaKeith Stanfield and Rosario Dawson, this movie plays like a feature-length ad for Disney’s theme-park attraction of the same name.
- Share full article
By Manohla Dargis
There is a mansion, it is haunted, boo, blah, the end.
That’s pretty much all there is to say about “Haunted Mansion,” a live-action branding opportunity from Disney “inspired by” its theme-park attraction of the same name. The first of these opened in 1969 in Disneyland , in Anaheim, Calif., where it’s in the “Music-Lovin’ New Orleans Square,” as the park’s website puts it. That’s the site of another fan favorite, the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, which spawned a multibillion-dollar film franchise for Disney. “Haunted Mansion” is unlikely to do the same.
This is the second feature based on the “Mansion” attraction. (A 2021 Halloween special, “Muppet Haunted Mansion,” is streaming on Disney+.) The first film, “ The Haunted Mansion ” (2003), starring Eddie Murphy, was widely panned but made millions. In his review, the New York Times critic Elvis Mitchell wrote that it was “only a matter of time before “‘Parking Lot: The Movie’ and ‘People-Mover: The Motion Picture,’” an observation that feels more true and less funny now that this year has brought us other I.P.-based branding opportunities about all kinds of stuff, including sneakers (“ Air ”), games (“Tetris,” “The Super Mario Bros. Movie”), junk food (“Flamin’ Hot”) and, of course, a doll (a.k.a. “ Barbie ”).
The new “Haunted Mansion” was directed by Justin Simien, whose first feature, “Dear White People” (2014), is an incisive, sharply funny satire about a political firestorm at a college that earned him a lot of attention and led to both a book and a well-received Netflix show of the same title. I hope that Disney paid Simien truckloads of money to direct “Haunted Mansion,” and that he had more fun making it than I had watching it. He keeps things moving along, more or less, and the appealing cast hit their marks, but it’s dispiriting to see him directing what is effectively a feature-length Disney promotion. I hope it’s his last big-studio ad.
It stars LaKeith Stanfield (“Atlanta”), who imbues his generic role — a brainiac with a tragic story and busy tear ducts — with more emotional intensity than the movie calls for, which is its only surprise. His character, Ben, has developed a camera that can take photographs of ghosts, equipment that you’d expect the paranormal investigators in the (non-Disney) Ghostbusters series to have. And, wouldn’t you know it, the screenwriter here, Katie Dippold, also co-wrote the female-led “Ghostbusters” (2016) reboot. Like that movie, “Haunted Mansion” features a ragtag group of likable eccentrics battling digital ghosts, but it’s fright-free and far less funny. It’s all setup and no payoff.
The cast includes Rosario Dawson, whose unwaveringly fixed smile suggests that she decided to just grin and bear it to play Gabbie, a single mother with a predictably cute moppet, Travis (Chase W. Dillon). Gabbie wants to open a bed-and-breakfast in the mansion, which she found on Zillow, one of a number of product brands invoked throughout the movie. (For a cross-promotion stunt, the mansion has been listed on Zillow in the real world.) Also onboard is an oddball priest (Owen Wilson), a ditsy medium (Tiffany Haddish) and an excitable scholar (Danny DeVito). Jamie Lee Curtis pops in, too, for a turn that made me want to rewatch her genuinely scary performance in “The Bear,” a show on the Disney-owned streamer Hulu. I’d watch Curtis in just about anything, including “Parking Lot: The Movie,” which I assume is already in development.
Haunted Mansion Rated PG-13 for very mild ghost action. Running time: 2 hours 2 minutes. In theaters.
Manohla Dargis is the chief film critic of The Times, which she joined in 2004. She has an M.A. in cinema studies from New York University, and her work has been anthologized in several books. More about Manohla Dargis
Explore More in TV and Movies
Not sure what to watch next we can help..
The Apple TV+ period drama “Lessons in Chemistry,” Brie Larson plays the fictional host of a 1950s cooking show. But the story is inspired by the real TV homemakers who flourished back then .
The 10-episode series “Goosebumps,” streaming on Disney+ and Hulu, adapts the children’s novels of R.L. Stine with a modern twist. Here are some differences from the source material .
In the Netflix film “Fair Play,” the writer-director Chloe Domont tackles power dynamics within relationships. It might end up facilitating some breakups .
Eric Martin, the head writer of the television series “Loki,” talked about crafting the plot and characters of the second season .
If you are overwhelmed by the endless options, don’t despair — we put together the best offerings on Netflix , HBO Max , Disney+ , Amazon Prime and Hulu to make choosing your next binge a little easier.
Sign up for our Watching newsletter to get recommendations on the best films and TV shows to stream and watch, delivered to your inbox.
- International edition
- Australia edition
- Europe edition
Haunted Mansion review – theme park ride spinoff gives up the ghost
Justin Simien’s chiller based on a Disney attraction is a grimly efficient intellectual property cash-in that’s devoid of scares
T his latest version of Haunted Mansion is the second film (after an Eddie Murphy-starring 2003 version) to be based on a Disney theme park ride that has also spawned a Muppet Halloween special, a comic book series and a video game. And if you’re wondering what inspiration could possibly still be eked out of this already thoroughly plundered property, the answer is not a whole lot.
LaKeith Stanfield stars as Ben, a grieving widower and an astrophysicist turned New Orleans tour guide. Rosario Dawson does battle with malign spirits and an equally antagonistic wig in the role of Gabbie, the single mother who, along with her quirky, lonely little boy, moves to Gracey Manor in New Orleans. Gabbie and Ben find themselves trapped in the mansion, along with several hundred ghosts and a chillingly dead-eyed and phoned-in performance from Owen Wilson. This is a grimly efficient IP cash-in that defuses any potential scares with a hot-pink colour palette and a bunch of oddly specific and distracting product placements.
- The Observer
- Horror films
- Comedy films
- Rosario Dawson
- Owen Wilson
- Walt Disney Company
- Theme parks
Haunted Mansion Review
In 2003, Disney proved they could make a hit movie based on one of their theme-park rides with the first Pirates Of The Caribbean . They followed up with an Eddie Murphy vehicle (remember them?) based on another Disneyland attraction, The Haunted Mansion . That scared up reasonable business but didn’t become a major film franchise.
Twenty years on, ignoring the warning bells sounded by big-ticket items like Tomorrowland and Jungle Cruise , Disney greenlit this Haunted Mansion , which is neither a sequel nor a remake but throws together the same set of ingredients. Talented cast, CGI phantasms all over the show, open-mouthed comedy, Easter eggs for theme-park obsessives, needlessly complicated supernatural mystery, and an air of being in too much of a hurry to deliver on a promise of shivers.
Haunted Mansion is the sort of watchable product which fills out streaming services – though in that category it’s less fresh than Christopher Landon’s recent Netflix offering We Have A Ghost , and on Disney+ rubs shoulders with deep backlist titles like Blackbeard’s Ghost or The Gnome-Mobile . Director Justin Simien made the smart indie satire Dear White People and followed up with a pointed hip-hop fable about vampire hair extensions called Bad Hair . He’s a canny choice to step up to mainstream studio directing, but it’s a shame he doesn’t get chewier material to work with. Katie Dippold (of The Heat and the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot) assembles a script as if deluged with notes about the plot beats which had to be included and the trick effects from the Disneyland original which couldn’t be left out.
Rosario Dawson inherits the Eddie Murphy role but is sorely underused in a regulation Mom part.
Well-acted but rote talks about grief and ‘moving on’ are layered between scenes of Danny DeVito prowling haunted corridors in his underwear or Tiffany Haddish screaming as a haunted chair tips her into mud. LaKeith Stanfield plays a troubled hero with a low-key, likeable intensity, which is admirable — but less on point than Owen Wilson’s usual spacey act (he’s a failed exorcist) and Haddish’s spieling as an overconfident medium.
As the owner of the haunted mansion, Rosario Dawson inherits the Eddie Murphy role but is sorely underused in a regulation Mom part. As Madame Leota, Jamie Lee Curtis earns bonus points for one astonishing silent-movie-star outfit but is mostly stuck in a crystal ball as a disembodied head – and fails to match Jennifer Tilly’s reading of the role (the most memorable thing in the 2003 film). Jared Leto’s Morbius cheekbones get a CGI workover so he can play a head in a hatbox big bad. The funhouse illusion of corridors becoming impossible geometries is spun out via CGI, which doesn’t dispel a feeling that we’ve been here before and aren’t as spooked this time round.
Haunted Mansion Review
A ghost story with horror and soul.
Disney’s second crack at adapting its famous Haunted Mansion attraction into a cinematic experience fares much better than its Eddie Murphy-starring predecessor. In the hands of writer Katie Dippold and director Justin Simien, 2023’s Haunted Mansion is a soulful New Orleans ghost story that expertly speaks to younger audiences about death, grief's stranglehold, and the afterlife. Dippold finds a tender beating heart at the core of her screenplay without sacrificing the gateway horror ambitions of this PG-13 spookshow. Haunted Mansion successfully balances emotional sweetness and just-frightening-enough spectral scares with a Disneyfication of genre tropes, becoming a fun-filled scary movie for (almost) the entire family.
An eclectic ensemble – led by LaKeith Stanfield in the role of Louisiana tour guide Ben Matthias – squares off against the 999 spirits inhabiting single mother Gabbie’s (Rosario Dawson) new residence. Gabbie and her social-outcast son Travis (Chase Dillon) try to flee from the estate when they discover its paranormal infestation — they’re no fools. Dippold acknowledges how silly it’d be for a family to cohabitate with unpredictable entities and writes characters who hardly want to become Ghostbusters. Still, they have to because the film’s rules cleverly establish a logical reason that keeps everyone from a full-sprint exit. From Danny DeVito’s oddball college professor Bruce to Owen Wilson’s suspiciously chill Father Kent to Tiffany Haddish’s cost-effective medium Harriet, there’s no glaring weak link. Haunted Mansion is one of those comedies where everyone seemed to enjoy their time on set, which makes for a loosey-goosey cast playing off one another’s reactions to supernatural absurdity with easygoing chemistry.
As a film that handles tough conversations about a peaceful, even celebratory afterlife, Haunted Mansion does a tremendous job softening the blow of crushing mortality. Death can be a petrifying concept for any audience, let alone youngsters, but Haunted Mansion handles existential dread and immense grief with the fearlessness of a showstopper like Coco. In the context of storytelling (and without forcing beliefs down anyone’s throat), Dippold uses Ben’s broken heart as an entry point into discussions that blur the lines between “life” and “death” as we perceive. The themes of Haunted Mansion are comforting, like mouthfuls of spicy-savory jambalaya warming our hungry stomachs.
Surprisingly, Haunted Mansion is also scarier than expected for a production based on an all-ages theme-park ride. “Scary” compared to my initial presumption that expected padded-and-safe horror glimpses to please the Disney faithful who couldn’t handle Saturday the 14th, let alone the movies it spoofs. It’s not The Conjuring or Poltergeist, but an early bedroom scare involving a hatchet-swinging husband killer whose ghoulish figure disappears and reappears due to a flashlight’s beam earns the PG-13 rating. Simien uses Ben’s specially designed ghost-capturing camera like he’s in a level of Fatal Frame – Haunted Mansion takes its gateway-horror duties seriously.
What's the best gateway horror movie?
Watching the namesake attraction spring to life in Simien’s film is a joy, as everything from dining room dancers to the elongated entryway walls are translated to the screen. Visual effects by DNEG and Industrial Light & Magic dodge any complaints about modern reliance on dull computer graphics in movies, with colorful pinkish-greenish ghost realms and Aquafresh-blue ghosties — none more sinister than Jared Leto’s villainous Hatbox Ghost. Dippold reaches into Haunted Mansion lore and pulls out a menacing uber-spirit, a ride figurehead imbued by an unrecognizable Leto with cackling malice and textbook evil.
If there’s something to ding, the just-over-two-hour duration leaves room for less successful jokes that succumb to the inescapable (but thankfully infrequent) coddling inherent in a horror story told by Disney. Chase Dillon makes a mighty impression as afraid-of-his-shadow Travis, but his fatherless character’s interactions with parental stand-in Ben are also a bit ordinary by dramatic measures. There are corridors of mediocrity scattered throughout Haunted Mansion, whether that’s the alright-at-best disembodied head of Jamie Lee Curtis digitally trapped in a crystal ball or less compelling scenes set outside Gabbie’s haunted property. Between dozens of Easter eggs for seasoned Doom Buggy passengers, wonderfully wicked visuals, and a strong grasp on crowd-pleasing haunted-house mechanics, there’s no reason to leave the mansion for long stretches of the runtime — which becomes a brief frustration when that happens.
The first attempt at spinning a movie out of the Haunted Mansion was DOA, but Justin Simien finds new life in the premise. Gateway horror can be so fickle because it needs to impress viewers of all ages while gearing scares toward lower tolerances. Haunted Mansion does precisely this with a cast of characters battling their own existential demons in addition to the their grim, grinning roommates. Don’t worry, it’s still an enjoyable romp that makes for maximum moviegoing entertainment — the boldness of the storytelling and creepiness of haunted New Orleans architecture are welcome bonuses.
More Reviews by Matt Donato