Haunted Mansion

Haunted Mansion doesn't quite cross over to the other side of good, but it's passable entertainment.
Rosario Dawson, Owen Wilson, Danny DeVito, Jamie Lee Curtis
Katie Dippold
Comedy, Drama, Family, Horror
Release date
July 28, 2023
Overall Score
Rating Overview
Children Suitability
Parent Appeal
Rating Summary
Haunted Mansion is about as good as a movie about a cliché haunted house ride has any right to be. It boasts no surprises, adequate two-dimensional performances, adequate special effects, and a plot as good as a 90's video game based on a movie. If you can get past the playful blasphemy and knowing everything that will happen before it happens, you may be able to not wish death upon yourself and all those responsible for the film's creation while your kids (ages 9-11) enjoy the spectacle.

Based on the Disneyland ride of the same name, this Haunted Mansion is the second adaptation of the half-century-old attraction.

Haunted Mansion

Set on the outskirts of New Orleans, mother and son duo Gabbie and Travis and an ever-expanding cast of characters find themselves at the center of a hundreds-year-old mystery, a mystery they must solve. For if they do not, one of them will become the next permanent resident of the Haunted Mansion.

Rosario Dawson stars as Gabbie, a medical professional and recently single mother trying to get a fresh start with her son. Dawson, always a capable performer, does about as much as one can with her character. Like the rest of the cast, she has to contend with vanilla and pedestrian dialogue as her character navigates a story of endless clichés that feels as preprogrammed as the ride for which it is named. That being said, she seems to never fully commit to the role.

There’s very little sense of visible panic for her 9-year-old son when he’s repeatedly placed in life-and-death situations. Rather, she reacts much the same as she does when having difficulty making breakfast in another scene. Her character’s stoicism is such that, in one particular instance, she calmly reminds her son to fasten his seat belt before they speed away after their first “terrified” confrontation with the undead. Marcus Aurelius would be proud.

However, virtually all of the known performers are muted versions of what we’ve seen in other pieces. Owen Wilson plays Owen Wilson without the pizzaz, and Danny DeVito plays a less casaba-banging variation of his It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia character. Still, muted reactions could very well have been a conscious decision on the part of the filmmakers to help keep the film from being too frightening for its intended audience.

Along those lines, while Haunted Mansion is in no danger of keeping adults up at night, it largely foregoes its 2003 predecessor’s farcicality (though it does try and fail at comedy on multiple occasions). Instead, it leans much more heavily into horror and to much greater effect, offering up one or two moderately impactful, if telegraphed and unoriginal, jump scares.

The studio’s sanitized and safe approach is evident in every scene, bit of dialogue, and plot point. Whereas movies like 1990’s Witches benefited from risk-takers like Jim Henson (producer), 2023’s Haunted Mansion feels very much as though it was written by 2016’s Lady-Ghostbuster’s Katie Dippold (it was), focused-grouped, punched up by a room full of writers, rinsed and repeated.

All in all, Haunted Mansion isn’t a terrible film. The action is serviceable even with its sporadic and awkward attempts to squeeze a three-dimensional block into a two-dimensional hole with LaKeith Stanfield’s character Ben’s unnecessary and momentum-killing backstory flashbacks. The plot (which isn’t revealed until almost an hour in), performances, and dialogue, while predictable and clichéd, are mostly sufficient to keep you from playing World Series of Poker on your phone while your kids enjoy the movie.  At least it has a plot, unlike this summer’s inexplicable hit, Barbie.


  • This is a movie only appropriate for a very select age group. The plentiful scares are too frightening for the very young yet too unremarkable and immature for anyone over the age of 12.
  • There are a handful of times in which God’s name is used in vain (ex: “my God,” “oh God,” etc.).


Earning the movie back some non-woke points, one of its key plot devices is dependent on the implicitly understood and explicitly stated importance of having a stable and loving father in the home.

Also, I didn’t ding it for the “diverse” nature of the bulk of its main cast for a good reason: It’s not based on a work of fiction with long-established caucasian characters that have been DEI swapped (unlike The Little Mermaid and the upcoming Snow White).

  • Christianity is repeatedly used as a joke (to the point of out-and-out blasphemy) and is impotent in the face of evil, while conversely, science and black magic are shown to be good, true, and effective against the undead.
  • Every white person is either an evil ghost, a con man, or a goofball, while every person of color is thoughtful, a genius, or yet to realize their full and tremendous potential.
  • The primary antagonist is a ghost with the last name Crump and while he is likely named after the last living Imagineer to have worked on the original Disney ride, Rolly Crump, it is no small coincidence that the father of the ghost whose last name happens to rhyme with a particular former American president reviled by the Hollywood Left was an evil and heartless real estate tycoon whose love of money in conjunction with his mental and emotional abuse drove Allistor to even greater heights of evil. Dippold’s arm must still be sore from patting herself on the back for that one.
  • One of the main characters who happens to be black makes a crack about never having thought that he would ever say “call the police.” Do you get it? All police officers are racist. Hilarious.

James Carrick

James Carrick is a passionate film enthusiast with a degree in theater and philosophy. James approaches dramatic criticism from a philosophic foundation grounded in aesthetics and ethics, offering insight and analysis that reveals layers of cinematic narrative with a touch of irreverence and a dash of snark.


  • Austin

    July 31, 2023 at 9:43 am

    Hey Man, I just wanted to say how grateful I am for this site! I’ve been thinking about a site kinda like this for a long time! PluggedIn can sometimes be a good resource, but they can kinda be squishes (or at least bamboozled) on feminist messaging and the like.

    Thank you!



    • Cari L.

      July 31, 2023 at 2:07 pm

      I agree with Plugged In. However, they’re still a reliable review site.



    • This is weird

      October 6, 2023 at 2:00 am

      You need some one to tell you something is woke. 😂 This website has to be the most LGBTQ thing I’ve seen around,



  • Arena

    August 2, 2023 at 9:55 am

    I’m so glad something like this has finally been created. We’re constantly Googling new movies to see how many woke check boxes they’re going to have, and often it is quite a few scrolls later until we can find an honest review.

    What I like about this site is you list the woke elements instead of just calling woke, which really helps to decide if we’re going to skip it or ignore the woke and enjoy the mindless entertainment.

    We’re probably going to take the kids to see this one.

    Thanks for the work you’re doing and suffering through some of the most ignorant/ brain dead garbage so we don’t have to.

    God bless!



  • Matt Zielke

    August 2, 2023 at 1:03 pm

    Love the site!! I think you are stretching it a bit with the Crump Trump comparison though, I know you acknowlege t 2 other characters are named after Imagineers, and another 2 were named after the same characters in the ride which we also named after Imagineers…



    • James Carrick

      August 2, 2023 at 1:18 pm

      My gut says that Katie Dippold was told to name the bad guy after the Imagineer, and she decided that, since the character was an evil rich white man, she’d have a little “fun” with it and make his father a Trump allusion.

      In fairness, I only marked the non-wokeness score down half a point for it.


    • Chad

      August 15, 2023 at 8:00 pm

      Love the Trump. Great website.


  • Tia

    August 2, 2023 at 4:55 pm

    Well, this film sounds instantly forgettable. Thanks for the great review!



  • ChoketheWoke

    August 4, 2023 at 12:05 am

    It’s Woke. Directed by a DEI hire, who got the job because he’s black, gay and hates white people.

    That’s too damn Woke for me.



  • Menace

    August 4, 2023 at 9:36 pm

    There’s also a small jab from Keith Stanfields character about police officers, you should add that to the woke tally


  • Don L

    August 5, 2023 at 1:48 pm

    I love this site, and generally agree with the reviews of the movies that I’ve seen.
    My wife and I did like this movie, shortcomings aside, and didn’t find it overly woke to the point we couldn’t enjoy it.
    It did seem to emphasize the importance of a traditional family, something sadly missing in most modern movies.
    As for downplaying the power of Christianity, that is true of nearly every ghost story, or they wouldn’t have a story. At least the characters gave Owen some measure of respect when they thought he was a priest. And at the end, the main character didn’t give in to a very strong temptation to embrace the dark side, a noble Christian concept.
    I’ll admit my bar may be set low after the many years of left-wing trash being pushed in movies and shows, so something that isn’t too overt is at least a step in the right direction.


  • Xena

    August 8, 2023 at 1:37 pm

    1 out of 5

    “Haunted Mansion” 2023 is completely forgettable–actually forgot I watched it last week. This movie is labelled as a horror/comedy but comes off as neither. You’re infinitely better off watching “The Haunted Mansion” 2003 starring Eddie Murphy.

    This pointless remake features a bloated cast (there honestly aren’t that many actors, yet only half of them are relevant) and a plot that meanders to an unsatisfying close long after you’ve stopped paying attention. While the mansion is haunted, there’s no charm to it (see the colourful excess of the 2003 movie) and precious little time is actually spent in the house, aka the suppposed star of the film. The characters are bland and only Owen Wilson and Tiffany Haddish show a spark of personality (but I think they just play themselves), and the Hatbox Ghost’s goals are easily forgotten. Was honestly hoping to see more of the Attic Bride, but oh well. Finally, you’re supposed to feel for the main characters’ tragic backstories, but everyone is so poorly written they can’t earn your interest, much less your sympathy.

    Being forced back to the mansion because the ghosts haunt you wherever you are is an interesting idea, but it just comes across as a reason to spend more money skipping arbitarily between locations. CGI is used haphazardly and artlessly, lighting is the standard ugly “natural” gray no matter where you are in the movie, and the “climax” of the film features everyone standing around in front of a greenscreen talking.

    Also please tell me in what world a poor single mother with a young son can scrape up enough money to buy a dilapidated mansion in the middle of nowhere Louisiana with serious plans to create a successful and profitable B&B? That’s some Hallmark movie logic that is undeserved and basically irrelevant in this messy story.

    Again I say: watch the 2003 version instead. It has its failings but you’ll enjoy it much more.



    • Mal

      October 5, 2023 at 9:29 am

      I wouldn’t consider a Doctor who typically makes 6 figures “poor”.


  • Willie Fidler

    August 9, 2023 at 1:39 pm

    5 out of 5

    England is not a communist country. I wish braindead Americans would stop commenting on things they obviously know nothing about



  • Moo shoo

    August 13, 2023 at 2:00 am

    5 out of 5

    I found it interesting they spent good 30 seconds showing his half covered black power fist tattoo on his chest.


    • James Carrick

      August 13, 2023 at 5:37 pm

      I honestly have no memory of that. Otherwise, I definitely would have mentioned it. But that’s why we keep the comments open.


  • Joe Crump

    September 23, 2023 at 6:06 pm

    5 out of 5

    “…the father of the ghost whose last name happens to rhyme with a particular former American president…” Let’s state the obvious. You are paranoid.



  • Mal

    October 5, 2023 at 9:34 am

    5 out of 5

    Gods name is not “God” there are many “god’s. His name is Yahweh or Jehovah (Exodus 6:2-3 And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the Lord:
    And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them.)
    Nobody says Oh My Jehovah. But people will say anything to fit their narrative. There’s no reason that any show or movie should “ding” for Diversity. I wonder if diversity would be a cause of concern for Jesus 🤔 there is no Christianity in this movie. There is though a Catholic “priest” who really isn’t a priest. Father Kent. There’s OBVIOUSLY going to be black magic in a movie called Haunted Mansion. It’s obviously not a Christian movie thus it won’t show the religion as useful in it. No point in getting into the racism of what race is what when there’s never ANY mention of people of color being portrayed as thugs, murderers, gang affiliates etc. boohoo their portrayed as geniuses or people with tremendous potential here. How dare they!!! Too bad that Rolly Crump’s last name is Crump. If it rhymes with Trump oh well🤷🏼‍♀️ it’s a fact that NOBODY would want to call the police. But like I said, people will say/see anything that fits their narrative.


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