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.