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Disney’s ‘Haunted Mansion’ Is Lazy and Disappointing

disney's haunted mansion movie
Credit: Disney/Canva

I’ve defended the Walt Disney Company and its movies for years now.

When up against those who felt Disney was simply taking a loyal audience for granted and playing it safe, I have argued, “Well, the company has been going through a hard time, they have bad leadership, and things will change now that Chapek is gone.” I have even argued that live-action remakes made a lot of sense from a financial perspective since they are tried-and-tested stories that people love, and Disney is giving its audience a chance to relive those memories.

I have made all of these arguments in the past, and yet, today, I’m simply done with Disney’s lack of care and effort toward an audience that it knows will keep coming back.

Disney live-action remakes

Halle Bailey as Princess Ariel in the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid / Credit: Disney

Disney’s Haunted Mansion is just the next in an increasingly apparent long line of movies and releases that bank on loyal fans and ride on the fame of some of the best talent in the industry right now.

The story follows a single mom named Gabbie (Rosario Dawson) who hires a tour guide, a psychic, a priest, and a historian to help exorcise her newly bought mansion after discovering ghosts inhabit it. The movie has been one of the most anticipated movies of the summer.

It’s a remake of the 2003 movie starring Eddie Murphy; the movie features a star-studded cast including LaKeith Stanfield, Rosario Dawson, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jared Leto, Tiffany Hadish, Danny DeVito, Owen Wilson, and more. It was directed by the incredible Justin Simien (Dear White People), and the script was penned by Katie Dippold (GhostbustersParks and Recreation).

Disney Live Action Haunted Mansion Remake 2023

L-R: Gabbie (Rosario Dawson), Father Kent (Owen Wilson), Bruce Davis (Danny DeVito), Madame Leota (Jamie Lee Curtis), Travis (Chase W. Dillon), Harriet (Tiffany Haddish), and Ben Matthias (LaKeith Stanfield) / Credit: Disney

I list all of these incredible names because the movie should have been fantastic. It should have been spectacular. I should have been clutching my seat in fear for some parts of the film and clutching my sides in laughter for others.

But I did neither.

Besides a few jump-scares and laughs, the movie fell flat and was only really rescued by the cast. The actors did their best in their roles and truly, truly delivered; but even a good performance and a great cast can’t save a movie that ultimately is nothing more than a two-hour-long advertisement for a Disney Park ride, stuffed with unnecessary and overdone product placement.

Tiffany Haddish Haunted Mansion

Tiffany Haddish as Harriet in the ‘Haunted Mansion’ / Credit: Disney

Don’t get me wrong, I love a movie that recalls the Haunted Mansion ride as much as the next gal, but a film needs to stand apart on its own two feet. It needs to do more than make Disney fans think fondly of the iconic Disney theme park ride. It needs to do more

Haunted Mansion at Night

Haunted Mansion at Magic Kingdom Park, Walt Disney World Resort / Credit: Disney

My frustration with Disney comes not only after watching Haunted Mansion, but also after watching four of Disney’s releases this summer in theaters. I watched The Little MermaidElementalIndiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, and now Haunted Mansion.

I enjoyed The Little Mermaid.

Indy was fine. (If I’m being honest, I don’t really remember it).

The only movie that wowed me was Elementaland Disney did that movie dirty with how they chose to market what could have been an incredible hit. Instead, yet again, they banked on word of mouth to promote the movie, and again, it is fans that have rescued the movie.

elemental disney biggest hit

A still from Elemental / Credit: Disney

But back to Disney’s Haunted Mansion, what I remember fondly of the movie is the incredible performance of the actors. The rest of it is simply… disappointing.

It’s truly astounding how Disney can have the best animators, some of the best CGI, and some of the best talent, and still manage to care as little as they do about giving their audience something new and exciting to watch, and giving a Disney film its best shot at success. Clearly, it’s not enough to bank on star power; Disney has to bring more to the table than just riding on the coattails and hard work of the actors and directors it hires. (Especially if the company is going to pay them poorly.)

I wanted to like Disney’s Haunted Mansion. No, I wanted to love it. But I just… didn’t.

About Priyanka Kumar

Priyanka is a writer, artist, avid reader, and travel enthusiast based in Chicago. In her free time, she is probably walking by the lake, catching up on the latest releases on TV, or spending inordinate amounts of time rewatching Moana, Encanto, and her Disney Channel life-long favorites Zack and Cody wreak havoc on the Tipton.

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