It’s officially spooky season, and what better way to celebrate than by watching spooky movies with the kids? Our choice for the evening was Disney’s third feature film based on their famous ride of the same name, the second one this year (yes, there’s also a Muppets iteration). As a fan of Disneyland and having visited the ride with the kids, it felt great to rekindle those memories by watching this movie. I’ll be approaching this review as one should, as a popcorn-worthy spooky film.
The film is directed by Justin Simien and boasts an ensemble cast that includes LaKeith Stanfield, Rosario Dawson, Owen Wilson, Tiffany Haddish, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Danny DeVito, to name a few. The story revolves around Gabbie (played by Dawson), a mother who purchases a mansion to transform into a bed and breakfast. Naturally, they find themselves in a pickle of sorts when they discover that the mansion is haunted by ghosts and ghouls. Gabbie seeks the help of an eclectic team comprising an astrophysicist, a lecturer, a medium, and a priest.
The cast is brilliant and carry the movie so hard, it hurts. Each actor adds their unique flair to the film, and their chemistry is fantastic. This ensemble is the film’s main saving grace. While the cinematography and costume design are stunning, the direction and script fall short of delivering a truly compelling story. The film incorporates numerous references from the original ride and features some exciting cameo appearances. Furthermore, the entire set design, costume choices, and CGI seamlessly capture the essence of the ride, providing a nice touch.
The biggest issue I had with this movie is its identity crisis. It struggles to define its genre, wavering between a somber drama exploring themes of grief and a witty action-comedy. This lack of clear direction leaves the audience uncertain about what to expect. Additionally, the film’s pacing issues and extended sequences that contribute little to the plot make it feel overly long, and it could have benefited from a 30-minute trim.
In conclusion, this film is yet another Disney remake that may not have been entirely necessary. Don’t get me wrong; watching LaKeith Stanfield on screen is always a treat. However, I can’t help but feel that this was a missed opportunity to create a substantial project with such A-list performers. At this point, I’m convinced that the only movie adaptation of a Disney theme park ride capable of achieving massive success will be “Pirates of the Caribbean.”