Disney fails at spooking audiences and keeping its storyline afloat in its latest Haunted Mansion reboot.
When news of the reboot of Haunted Mansion first surfaced, many fans of the previous installment, like myself, were ecstatic. Considering the 20 years gap since the first film, it seemed reasonable for Disney to give this franchise another shot.
After all, the first installment was a hit at the box office, grossing over $ 182 million against a budget of $ 90 million. But like many Disney reboots these days, the decision to revisit may have only tainted the beloved reputation of the series.
Directed by Rob Minkoff, the sequel starts with a single mom named Gabbie (played by Rosario Dawson) who hires a tour guide, Ben (played by LaKeith Stanfield) after finding out her new home is haunted.
Ben, who initially refused to participate, gets involved after a local priest, Father Kent (Owen Wilson) informs him that Gabbie will compensate him generously.
He then unknowingly walks into a trap as he is unavailable to escape the haunting. Together, the group then assembles a team to fight off the ghosts in the mansion.
One for the family
Similar to its predecessor, Haunted Mansion 2 does an excellent job of positioning itself as a family flick. Parents need not worry as good family values are celebrated and taught throughout the film.
Gabbie’s relationship with her son, Travis (played by Chase W. Dilon) for instance, is an illustration of this. From the get-go, we get to see the extent her character was willing to go for her son. Despite not having the means to defeat the supernatural, she was still determined to find a way.
This desire to always put her son first was certainly heartwarming to see. Stanfield’s interaction with Tim was also another indication of this. Seeing how he developed a liking for Tim, Disney succeeded at once again tugging at viewers’ heartstrings.
Apart from family, the friendships between the rest were also among the knots that tied the whole movie together. Their chemistry on screen definitely elevated the film’s appeal and enriched its depth.
Casting on point
This chemistry would not have been feasible if not for a great cast like the movie’s ensemble. Each of the fellow actors blended well together on screen. While some were hilariously funny, others were characters you could not help but root for.
If I had to pick two that stood out the most, it would be Owen Wilson and Tiffany Hadish as their respective characters. Wilson, as most of us are familiar with, has been known for his comedic chops for years.
Hence, it should not come as a surprise seeing him excel in the genre. It is even fair to argue, at this point, that it is almost impossible for Wilson to go wrong with comedy. Though he tweaks it for a younger audience here, Wilson still delivers with his lines and timings.
Haddish is no different. As a comic who is no stranger to the big screen, Haddish manages to further extend her comedic chops with this character. Her lines and facial expressions could not have been more humorous and perfect!
Having said that, there is only so much Wilson and Haddish can do when the plot is not convincing enough. Haunted Mansion, for sure has its moments, but for the most part, it struggles to stay afloat with its storyline.
Take its villain for example. During its initial stages, viewers are heavily prepped for his appearance. We are constantly reminded of his strength and evil presence, yet we only get to see him for several scenes.
And in those glimpses, we merely get a taste of his power, making the built-up pointless. His ‘army’ did not help either as their roles felt awkward and forced.
All this in turn affected the movie’s credibility as a family horror flick. As such, its two-hour duration felt a bit redundant.
It is still serviceable
The sequel definitely falls short especially when compared to its predecessor. In hindsight, the project could have reached greater heights. Nonetheless, the end product is still convincing enough to be served as a serviceable family movie.
Its family values and quality humour still makes it a great delight for families and younger audiences. It will, however, may not be something they go back to especially with the existence of the first film.