News From the Students, For the Students

The Griffin Gazette

News From the Students, For the Students

The Griffin Gazette

News From the Students, For the Students

The Griffin Gazette

‘Haunted Mansion’: A terrifyingly good movie

Disney’s “Haunted Mansion” brings a spooky thrill with heart-touching emotions
Disneys newest film, Haunted Mansion, allows audiences to re-experience Disneyland nostalgia through a new and exciting plot.
Katie Arnoult (via Canva)
Disney’s newest film, “Haunted Mansion,” allows audiences to re-experience Disneyland nostalgia through a new and exciting plot.

LOS ALAMITOS, CA — Following a trend of creating movies based on classic Disneyland attractions, Disney’s “Haunted Mansion” is a film of nostalgia, emotion, and the Halloween spirit. Though it was released on July 28, 2023, “Haunted Mansion” has become the perfect film for the Halloween season. Created 20 years after the original “Haunted Mansion” movie, this new remake is even scarier and more exciting.

The story follows Ben Matthias, a former paranormal investigator, played by LaKeith Stanfield. When single mom Gabbie and her son Travis discover that their New Orleans mansion is haunted, Ben is caught up in this new mystery along with optimistic Father Kent, a sassy psychic named Harriet, and wisecracking history professor Bruce Davis. Trapped inside the mansion with no way to escape, the unlikely heroes must solve a mystery, debunk old legends, and lift a centuries-old curse before it is too late.

“Haunted Mansion” is loaded with nostalgic references to its Disneyland attraction namesake. In the beginning of the film, Harriet is suddenly swept out of the mansion when her chair is possessed by an evil ghost, spun around, and shoved out the door, a connection to the Haunted Mansion ride’s “Doom Buggies.”

Additionally, the voice of Alistair Crump/The Hatbox Ghost can be heard teasing Ben, saying, “There are 999 happy haunts, but there’s always room for one more,” the iconic phrase from the Disneyland ride. And who is to forget the famous “stretching room”? While being chased by The Hatbox Ghost, Ben and Travis come upon a room where the walls, ceiling, and portraits stretch to make the chamber look more cavernous and its occupants smaller. 

“Haunted Mansion” is also filled with mystical elements from Harriet the psychic. I would argue that Harriet is the most impactful character to the story because of her knowledge of the dead and “the realm beyond,” which allows the plot to advance. Disney goes all out in incorporating aspects of the psychic world into this film, from summoning spirits around a circular table to banishment incantations. These details contribute to the New Orleans-centered inspiration of the film, as well as creating the magical elements of the story in a way that audiences are not as familiar with in Disney movies. 

Throughout its years, Disney has been known for creating wholesome movies that don’t terrify its audiences too much. Yet, much to my surprise, “Haunted Mansion” involved many frightening elements. Ranging from an eerie moving portrait of a bride in the beginning of the film to a jump scare from the ghost of Constance Hatchaway, “Haunted Mansion” delivered some solid scares.

However, a majority of the spooky elements were rather predictable, staying true to Disney’s family-friendly aspect. Families with young children can be assured that this movie isn’t too terrifying, but scary-loving audiences should be aware that this isn’t your typical Halloween nightmare like “The Nun” or “It.”

Similar to Disney’s other recent films, “Haunted Mansion”’s spooky plot features a deeper message. When the protagonist Ben Matthias is forced to return to his old career of ghost investigator, he is constantly reminded of his former wife Alyssa, who was killed in a car accident.

Ben’s guilt, grief, and sorrow make him an easy target for the villain Alistair Crump; throughout the movie, Ben learns to overcome his mourning and find joy in the memory of his wife, while also helping other characters through their struggles and demons. “Haunted Mansion” successfully captures the roller coaster that humans face when dealing with grief and heartache, but the movie also portrays how loved ones can help us overcome these challenges. 

If you are looking for a movie that brings both thrills and heartwarming messages, “Haunted Mansion” is the perfect film to see. With minimal scares and a whole ton of nostalgic Disney references, audiences can be sure that this movie will deliver on all aspects.

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About the Contributor
Katie Arnoult, Editor | Reporter
Katie Arnoult is a sophomore at Los Alamitos High School and an editor for the Griffin Gazette. She was the Editor-In-Chief for the McAuliffe Birdwatch during middle school and has begun working with The Youth Center's marketing committee this year in Los Alamitos. She loves to write articles about underrepresented groups at Los Al and about student life on campus. This year, she hopes to write more book reviews and about performances at Los Al. Her hobbies include photography, graphic design, reading, and playing with her dog, Jett. You can contact Katie at [email protected].
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