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Haunted Mansion (2023) [Review]

A family-friendly Disney movie about a haunted house could not be easy to craft. Fans of the spooky house know every detail, nook and cranny of the ride, and this movie is made for us with a bounty of easter eggs sprinkled throughout. I shrieked in delight at every reference I saw but each moment took me out of the movie constantly.

One has to be fully absorbed by the story and characters on the screen, and to be fair, this has an intended dual audience both young and old, so it can’t be that complex… as this is. It’s best not to examine the plot too closely, or the occasionally absurd character choices, likely made by the stars. A more experienced director might have reigned in the “creativity” a bit more.

It’s a beautifully produced film with gorgeous sets, costumes and effects that looks like a bazillion dollars were spent. Which explains the worst aspect of this film. While Disney has all the money in the world, they still decided to fill the screen with overt and truly obnoxious product placements that were the opposite of subtle (vanilla scented Yankee Candle anyone?). This film is truly haunted by the corporate greed embarrassingly on display. So many moments were ruined, including a seance when a character invites a ghost to write a message “using this pen and pad I bought from CVS.” Good lord Disney, REALLY?

None the less, I still enjoyed enough of the film, the outstanding performances by Rosario Dawson and Lakeith Stanfield, and the very ghostly story that encompasses BOTH haunted mansion rides (east and west coast), and likely something I will watch when getting in that Halloween mood.

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