The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

REVIEW: ‘Haunted Mansion’ better than 2003 classic

Well-done acting, perfect casting in movie adaptation of Disneyland ride
An official poster for Haunted Mansion.
An official poster for “Haunted Mansion.”

I was very pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed watching this movie. I do not want to hate on the 2003 Eddie Murphy movie “The Haunted Mansion,” but this adaptation of the classic Disneyland ride is leaps and bounds better. However, I do not want to imply that the Eddie Murphy version is “bad” because I genuinely think that it has its own time and place, along with its fair share of charm.

There were two aspects of “Haunted Mansion” that I wasn’t expecting, the first being the genuine emotional, thoughtfulness of the movie. A good chunk of “Haunted Mansion” talked about the afterlife in a way that children could understand and start to process. I am not one who thinks about death and the afterlife at all, but I am impressed that a movie based on an amusement park ride was able to approach that topic so gracefully.

The other aspect that surprised me was how “scary” the movie was. I do not mean to compare “Haunted Mansion” to “Hereditary” or “The Exorcist” because it was not that scary, but there were some surprisingly intense moments that I was not prepared for in a Disney movie. Please do not let that stop you from watching the movie; the “scary” moments really were not that bad, just surprising.

I would definitely call “Haunted Mansion” more funny than scary, and there were some really hilarious moments. One of my favorites was when Owen Wilson’s priest character compared main character Ben Matthias (played by LaKeith Stanfield) to Michael Jordan’s baseball playing career.

The overall plot of “Haunted Mansion” is somewhat similar to the 2003 movie, which is also loosely based on the Disneyland ride. The main characters of the movie are stuck inside the haunted mansion until they can get to the bottom of the hauntings inside the house.

Stanfield’s character was a particularly sad one; he was once a promising astrophysicist who met a woman named Alyssa (played by Charity Jordan) that did ghost tours. The two fell in love, but then Alyssa died in a car crash. Stanfield’s character left his career in astrophysics to continue doing ghost tours in memory of his wife.

Stanfield’s acting in the scene where he recounts Alyssa’s death is simultaneously breathtaking and heartbreaking; the emotion he put into that scene made me choke up while I was watching it, which I also did not expect from a Disney movie like “Haunted Mansion.”

It was also funny to see Jared Leto, Dr. Michael Morbius himself, play the Hatbox Ghost, the main antagonist of the movie who was surprisingly intimidating.

The acting in “Haunted Mansion” is well done, and the cast is perfect. Jamie Lee Curtis was a perfect fit for the role of legendary medium Madam Leota, a staple of Haunted Mansion — the one who says “hurry back… hurry back…” at the end of the ride.

There were a lot of really fun references to the Disneyland ride. Most of the music throughout the movie had motifs from the ride’s theme song “Grim Grinning Ghosts,” which brought a smile to my face whenever I heard it. It was also fun seeing the Hitchhiking Ghosts pop up in the movie.

I was impressed by the range of emotions included in “Haunted Mansion”; this movie was a really fun watch and I plan on watching it in theaters again before its theatrical run is over.

I would call this my favorite movie of the summer if this summer did not have so many good movies. I would rank “Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3,” “Oppenheimer” and “Spiderman: Across the Spider-Verse” above “Haunted Mansion,” but I still really enjoyed it.

I hope you have enjoyed this summer of blockbusters, foolish mortals. I will see you again next week for “The Meg 2.”

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Joey Franklin is a junior majoring in communications from Fairwood, Washington.