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  • Writer's pictureEllis Barthorpe

Haunted Mansion ★★

Justin Simien

Starring LaKeith Stanfield, Rosario Dawson, Chase W. Dillon, Owen Wilson, Tiffany Haddish

Stellar cast? Check! Brilliant set and production design? Check! Beloved Disney ride that's been fleshed out in to a far too long drawn out conceptual family film? Check! Haunted Mansion is the next classic Disneyland ride to be turned into a film for the big screen; after the success of Pirates of the Caribbean and the surprisingly fun Jungle Cruise, have we got another bout of family fun on our hands?

Haunted Mansion has been explored as a cinema concept already, several times, but here we're going to tell it all again, with a cast that are way too cool for the ghostly goings-on. LaKeith Stanfield is our lead, who doesn't want to be the hero, but acts like one from the word go. As we spend 20 minutes getting to know him and Rosario Dawson's Gabbie, the film is having fun, playing into the stereotypes and showcasing a potentially great gateway horror for younger film fans. It's a shame that those 20 minutes do not speak for the entire film.

We have an abundance of side characters that are larger-than-life but with next to no development: Owen Wilson, Tiffany Haddish, Danny DeVito and Jamie Lee Curtis most notably. Although the scale of the cast doesn't feel overwhelming (as it often can when the cast is this star-studded), you are left wondering why the best among these greats is Gabbie's son Travis (played by Chase W. Dillon). If given more to do and positioned as our protagonist, this could've been a lot more enjoyable. His reactions to the opening jump scares are priceless.

Sometimes a film saps all the energy from a cinema screen, and Haunted Mansion seemed to do that. It regularly plays for laughs yet fails to hit any punchlines; and any moments of sincerity are diminished by product placement. These Hollywood big hitters are given some weak dialogue to work with and there's very little chemistry, as nobody is given time to thrive. This all makes the +2 hour runtime even harder to withstand.

Although it starts off with spook-filled promise, Haunted Mansion soon drops its audience into the underworld where jokes are scarce and uniqueness in plot is non-existent.

Haunted Mansion available in select cinemas now

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