Jessica Wolfgang, Staff Writer

Another hit or flop? 

Disney is back at it again with yet another live action remake: Disney’s The Haunted Mansion (2023). The film had hit theaters on July 15th of 2023 and was recently released to Disney+ services on October 4th, 2023. Some Disney fans were excited to see the movie, but some expressed a lot of complaints after the viewing. Why are there such mixed reviews? 

A deeper take

Ultimately, Disney’s new Haunted Mansion’s intention was to try to stay as true as possible to the ride named Haunted Mansion in Disneyland California.  The ride in California, claims Master Gracey, named after an Imaginer, named Yale Gracey, as its owner who has since passed away. Since his passing, there have been other owners and guests who have died within the mansion, making the mansion haunted. All of this takes place in New Orleans according to the ride’s original story.

Unlike their original Haunted Mansion starring Eddie Murphy, the producers, and directors of Disney’s Haunted Mansion (2023), wanted to give more of a background story of Master Gracey and the unliving guests staying there in his house. To draw in more traction from an audience, they also had some celebrities fill some of the roles in the cast. Examples being Danny DeVito as a college professor, Owen Wilson as Kent, a current priest, and Jamie Lee Curtis as Madame Leota. Hopefully pulling in some interest by celebrities and giving more background to a beloved park ride, Disney hoped to win the audience over. 

A Horror and Supposed Comedy:

The film takes place in New Orleans and introduces its main plot theme by showing a single mother, Gabbie, and her son move into this antique house. Later on, this would come to be known as the Haunted Mansion. She had contacted multiple people to help her on this journey of solving the mysterious occurrences within the house. Of these people, she requested a recently widowed scientist-turned failed-paranormal expert, a priest, a psychic, and a history college professor. Ultimately, all were forced to help her as if they tried to leave, a ghost would follow them home. Each ghost, including Master Gracey gets a proper introduction and background story within the film. They had to uncover the mystery between Master Gracey and the ghost very fast. Unlike the ride, they made the Hatbox ghost evil and the sole cause of the unliving crew staying at the Haunted Mansion. As they uncover more clues, scary and strange things happen to the living guests.

Since this was Disney’s attempt to be actually genuinely scary, they definitely showed they can nail the horror aspect. In attempts to alleviate the utter horror they produced, they had the living cast throughout some random comedic relief lines to try and get the audience to loosen up a bit. This constant unnecessary, not well thought out comedic relief, ultimately led to some unnecessary lines that took away from the actual plot of the film, possibly adding to the audience’s mixed reviews.

Should Disney Continue Down the Live Action Path?

In the past, Disney has made some great hits with their re-make live actions such as Cinderella (2015) and Beauty and the Beast (2017). Some have been great hits, and personally I would argue that Haunted Mansion (2023) was a good film. However, some live actions are genuinely rushed and not well thought out. Some fans are probably genuinely sick and tired of Disney’s live action trends and remake. For the future, if Disney wants to gain more attraction back, production of new original well thought out animated films would be more of a hit in current climate.