Charles Merritt isn’t impressed by Disney’s attempt to scare children.

Haunted 2

The Film: Haunted Mansion

Rating: 12A

Watch if you liked: Addams Family, Hocus Pocus, Ghostbusters

Running time: 125 minutes

Genre: Comedy, Family, Spooky

Overview: A haunted mansion holds a mystery that only a group of newly met strangers can get to the bottom of, whilst facing their own haunted pasts.

What you liked:

There were some really good one liners which made me and the audience laugh.

The directing was great in places and the way the camera moved to heighten the spookiness of the house was super effective.

What you didn’t like:

The film didn’t really work for me. For a film that’s based on a fun and spooky ride, it failed to deliver on both. Sure, there were funny moments but nothing ever felt fun. It lacked a spirit of adventure, probably due to the nature of confining the plot to a mansion. It also didn’t really deliver on the scares - I imagine to appeal to a younger audience but Pirates of the Caribbean had more horror and tension than this and I feel this is the benchmark for Disneyland based rides.

I wonder whether the problem lies in focusing on the human characters. The happy haunts are the characters you’re most excited to see but I feel as though we didn’t really get to meet any. Even Madame Leota is used sparsely and Jamie Lee Curtis does what she can with the little she’s given.

The acting wasn’t bad, Danny DeVito is having a whale of a time, but I just didn’t really connect with the protagonists in the same way as I did with the memorable characters from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

Thoughts for parents:

You know whether this movie is for you. If you’re super against movies with any reference to ghosts and seances, you’re going to want to stay away from this one. If you don’t mind, it’s up to you.

When Ben is first greeted by Gabbie at the door to the mansion she tells him: ”I should you warn you. Once you come inside the house, everything changes.”

It stood out to me as a line I could imagine us saying as we welcome people into church. Well, said less ominously anyway…

But it did remind me of how when we let Jesus enter our lives everything changes. When the characters try to leave the house, they find themselves haunted wherever they go. Again, I hope people aren’t haunted by Jesus, but I do think there’s something in not being able to see things in the same way again once you know him.

At least, that’s our prayer. Right?

By the end of the movie, Ben learns to set aside his grief in the knowledge that he can share life with the strangers he’s been forced to meet and work with. Isn’t that a beautiful image of the church?

I’ll be honest, there isn’t much more for me to write. This movie was so underwhelming that I haven’t got anymore left to say.

2 stars