This is a good example of a film where the premise is promising, but the outcome doesn’t really deliver. It’s actually a great kids film, but the only problem is that some scenes may be too scary for kids. Adults, on the other hand, will find the movie pretty unfunny. With Eddie Murphy in the lead role it should be way more laughable, but there’s maybe one good chuckle in the whole movie.
Nonetheless, it’s intriguing in the sense that it takes place in a mysterious mansion and much of the plot being uncovered when real estate agent, Jim Evers (Murphy), and his family get trapped inside after Evers gets asked to represent the home on the market. Little do they know the mansion owner has his own agenda and secrets to hide.
It’s an obvious vehicle for Disney to promote their ride of the same name. Not that we always mind it (e.g. Pirates of the Caribbean) but when a premise is stretched thinly and the film still only comes in at under 90 minutes it’s safe to say that they don’t have much to work with. And with a ride that has so much potential for a brilliant story, we get stuck with a film that doesn’t really live up to expectations.
Although large portions of the film lack any substantial plot development, it’s enjoyable to watch the family explore and discover the secrets that the mansion hides. But the information that we get is received in clumps at a time. I won’t give anything away, but there is a curse involved in the movie and the details of said curse are highly convoluted and evoke so many questions to the viewer that the film loses a lot of credibility in the process.
But the set pieces are great. The filmmakers do a good job replicating the feel of the ride itself. Children will be awed by the mystery of the whole story and even though they may not understand certain plot details, it will definitely spark their imagination.
With a better script I would love to see Disney try this one again. Not that we can’t like 2003’s Haunted Mansion for what it is, but it’s nowhere near having a “modern classic” status.