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Haunted Mansion


Stars: LaKeith Stanfield, Rosario Dawson, Owen Wilson, Tiffany Haddish, Danny DeVito, Chase Dillon, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jared Leto

Director: Justin Simien

There's ghosts galore at the haunted mansion and, even as you flee, they follow you home, terrorising you until you're forced to return.

Excellent production design and up-to-the-mark special effects boost the backdrop to the light-hearted mayhem, but the dialogue is dull and the film is rarely scary or funny, suffering in the latter department by comparison with BBC TV's Ghosts.

Ben (Stanfield), formerly an astro-physicist who, consumed by grief after the death of his wife, now works as a tour guide, is visited by a phony priest (Wilson), who tells him that the woman (Dawson) who bought the mansion, is in need of rather more than a conventional exorcism.

Ben, who has invented an infra-red camera, uses it to photograph lights that may be ghosts, and further help is enlisted in the shapes of a haunted-house specialist (DeVito), and an eccentric medium (Haddish), not to mention Curtis as a vengeful ghost trapped inside a crystal ball.

The spectre behind the more devilish goings-on at the mansion is one Aleister Crump (read Crowley), who needs one more willing soul to...well, I never did figure out quite what.

A wild ride this should ideally be, but all too often isn't, and the picture rarely lets rip until, fortunately, it does so at the end, giving us the best 10 minutes in the entire film. Leto enjoys himself stealing the show as the top-hatted Crump, while sharp eyes may spot one-time star Marilu Henner as a member of a touring party. Product placement runs riot even more than the ghosts.

David Quinlan

USA 2023. UK Distributor: Disney. Colour by Company 3 .
122 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 10 Aug 2023