The first challenger to the current box-office rein of “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” arrives on Friday in the form of Disney’s second attempt at a film adaptation of its Haunted Mansion Disneyland ride.
The property was previously adapted to the screen before in 2003 with Eddie Murphy starring. That film was a disaster critically, pulling in a shocking 14% (4.3/10) on Rotten Tomatoes. Financially it did ok – grossing $182.3 million off a $90 million budget.
The property went dormant for a decade before Guillermo del Toro tried to revive it, but that version never made it out of development. The current version first emerged in 2020 and sees filmmaker Justin Simien (“Dear White People”) at the helm.
Reviews were first released yesterday and the good news is it’s a vast improvement on its predecessor. The bad news is, reviews are still decidedly mixed at 52% (5/7/10) on Rotten Tomatoees and numerous complaints ranging across the board.
Interestingly more than a few point out that the film’s shining light is “Atlanta” star LaKeith Stanfield who earns unanimous praise for a committed performance. Here’s a sampling of reviews:
“‘Haunted Mansion’ is a fun summer throwback to the likes of 2003’s ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl’. Inventive fun for every member of the family with a phenomenal lead performance by Stanfield.” – Kristen Lopez, The Wrap
“It would be interesting to see the version of Haunted Mansion that star LaKeith Stanfield seems to think he’s in 0 one where his jaded, grieving, scientist-turned-wannabe believer in ghosts could see his grounded performance matched” – Luke V. Thompson, AV Club
“Just as busy, corny, and predictable as its 2003 iteration—as well as destined to swiftly pass into the cinematic afterlife that is both convenience store bargain bins and cluttered streaming platform libraries.” – Nick Schager, The Daily Beast
“It’s too dark for a family film, too weightless and juvenile for grown-ups. In a season notable for high-level action spectacle and important auteur projects, Haunted Mansion is not just confused but inconsequential.” – Lucas Trevor, The Washington Post
“Haunted Mansion succeeds at feeling like an actual film, and not just a thin translation of the very familiar IP. It also happens to be a light, family-friendly, but still occasionally spooky adventure with some real poignancy to it.” – Liz Shannon Miller, Consequence
“Because no effort has been expended to make any of this even remotely scary – there are only so many times you can watch Stanfield dodge a flying CGI axe – you might at least hope for a belly laugh or two, or at least a few decent jokes.” – Justin Chang, The L.A. Times
“Despite a few cartoon-y scenes, Simien and his cast elevate Haunted Mansion to a thoroughly entertaining and oddly emotional good time.” – Emily Zemler, Observer
“Too scattershot and herky-jerky to ever approximate the feeling of a ride, the ghost sequences stop and start without any sense of place, rhythm, or purpose.” – David Ehrlich, Indiewire
“Alas, Haunted Mansion is yet another reminder that the assembling of a great cast does not guarantee a great movie. Director Justin Simien and screenwriter Katie Dippold can’t seem to find any kind of comedic rhythm.” – Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times
Tiffany Haddish, Owen Wilson, Danny DeVito, Rosario Dawson, Dan Levy, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jared Leto also star in “Haunted Mansion” which is set to open wide in cinemas this Friday.