Disney continues its descent into dazzlingly mediocre cash grabs; strip-mining its treasured animation catalog by churning out inert live-action remakes and shoe-horning popular Disneyland attractions into lame movies like this.
Maybe the Mouse House got the wrong idea when Johnny Depp made magic with “Pirates of the Caribbean” (which the studio insisted needed, what, five inferior sequels). This film’s problem lies in trying to include each and every “scare” from the attraction. This requires a back story for each “boo,” resulting in way, way too much exposition (read: “boring”), hoping some sort of overlong, creaky storyline can knit them all together. There’s no magic, no atmosphere (but a load of product placement).
That ill-fated, aimless storyline in this turkey involves a single mother (Rosario Dawson) who, having discovered that the decrepit mansion she has just bought is haunted, calls in a psychic, a priest, a New Orleans tour guide and a historian (Tiffany Haddish, Owen Wilson, LaKeith Stanfield and Danny DeVito). The talented yet misused director (Justin Simien – Dear White People) and ensemble cast are clearly having more fun than the audience.
Little kids will like it (it’s not at all scary) and it makes an attempt to explain to them the loss of a loved one, but wait for the streaming version. Say something nice, Don. Okay, it’s better than the previous, dismal attempt to make a film of the ride in 2003. But that’s not at all hard to be. (123 min)
Out in theatres now.