Haunted Mansion (2023)

Film and Plot Synopsis

In this frighteningly fun adventure inspired by the classic theme parks attraction, a doctor and her nine-year-old son, looking to start a new life, move into a strangely affordable mansion in New Orleans, only to discover that the place is much more than they bargained for. Desperate for help, they enlist a motley crew of so-called spiritual experts to help rid their home of supernatural squatters, including a priest, a widowed scientist-turned failed-paranormal expert, a French Quarter psychic, and a crotchety professor. (Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures)

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‘Haunted Mansion’ Movie Summary

The summary below contains spoilers.
Haunted Mansion (2023)The film begins during a New Year’s party where anti-social Ben Matthias (LaKeith Stanfield) meets social butterfly Alyssa (Charity Jordan). Ben is an astrophysicist working on the development of a camera that would detect dark matter while Alyssa works as a ghost tour guide. Despite their differences, Ben becomes enamored with Alyssa and the two unlikely lovers get married. Unfortunately, years later Alyssa is killed in a car crash and a despondent Ben gives up his career and continues to operate Alyssa’s ghost tour business despite his anti-social attitudes. Ben uses the business to search famous haunted places so that he can look for some sign of his wife; however, Ben never finds any evidence of ghosts.

In the present day, Doctor Gabbie (Rosario Dawson) and her awkward son Travis (Chase W. Dillon) move from New York to Gracey Manor near New Orleans. Gabbie has purchased the run-down mansion with dreams of converting it into a bed and breakfast. Within minutes of arriving at the mansion, Gabbie and Travis begin observing several supernatural things. Eventually, it becomes too much for both and they flee from the Manor is fear.

Not long after, Ben is visited by priest and exorcist Father Kent (Owen Wilson). Kent is seeking Ben’s assistance in investigating the supernatural elements at Gracey Manor. Ben has no interest in the offer until Kent informs Ben that Gabbie is willing to pay him well. A short time later, Ben visits the mansion and meets both Gabbie and Travis. Ben pretends to take pictures of the mansion and falsely declares Gracie Manor free from ghosts. However, when Ben returns home, he discovers that he has been followed home by a ghost mariner who haunts Ben until the astrophysicist inevitably returns to the Manor. Once there, Gabbie informs Ben that once he comes into the mansion, the ghosts will follow and haunt him until he returns to the Manor. A reluctant Ben agrees to help Kent, Gabbie, and Travis search for a way to free themselves from their hitchhiking ghosts.

A few days later, Ben and Kent seek out the assistance of psychic Harriet (Tiffany Haddish) to better communicate with the ghosts. They trick her into coming into the house and subjecting herself to the hitchhiking ghost curse. They also steal blueprints of the mansion from haunted house historian Professor Bruce Davis (Danny DeVito). Looking at the plans, they discover a hidden séance room which Harriet uses to summon the spirit of William Gracey (J. R. Adduci), the last owner of the Manor who used to use the séance room to attempt to talk to his deceased wife. The spirit of Gracey tells the group to seek the assistance of Madam Leota (Jamie Lee Curtis), a legendary medium who is trapped in a crystal ball within the house. However, before they can get any additional information from Gracey, he withdraws and a mysterious evil entity forces Harriet out of the house. Ben and the group pursue her out of the house, and Bruce arrives at the same time and enters the home, subjecting himself to the curse as well.

The now unified group begins staying at the mansion and proceeds to look for Madam Leota. During the search, Ben goes into the attic and encounters a ghostly murderous bride (Lindsay Lamb) who tries to kill him. Ben also finds a locked trunk. After escaping the bride, the group examines the trunk and discovers Leota’s crystal ball. Leota reveals that Gracey bought the mansion and recruited Leota to try to contact the spirit of Gracey’s dead wife Eleanor (Erika Coleman) every night for a full year. The spiritual sessions released hundreds of ghosts into the mansion. One such evil entity tricked Gracey into taking his own life in the mansion and trapped Leota inside the crystal ball.

A short time later, Harriet attempts to perform an astral projection of the evil entity to get more answers from the spirit. Instead of possessing Harriet, the entity possesses Ben instead, sending Ben’s consciousness outside of his own body. While disconnected, Ben finds Gracey again and learns that the evil entity is the Hatbox Ghost (Jared Leto) before retaking control of his body. The next morning, Bruce takes Ben to get a sketch artist to draw up the Hatbox Ghost so they can learn his true identity. Bruce’s research discovers that Hatbox is the spirit of the evil Alistair Crump, a rich man who was abused by his father after his mother’s death and was eventually expelled from his family’s home. Once Crump became an adult, he retook control of his family home and killed rich socialites as a form of revenge for being ostracized by them previously. However, Crump was eventually beheaded by his servants. Crump’s head was never found.

I know this place isn’t as warm as I hoped. But I’m gonna light a vanilla candle, and it’s gonna be a game-changer. Gabbie (Rosario Dawson)

The group learns that they need something that belonged to Crump to perform a ritual that would banish him permanently into the afterlife. Hatbox discovers what they are doing and proceeds to try to lock down the mansion so that no one can escape. However, Ben, Kent, and Travis get out of the mansion before Hatbox can trap them. The trio travels to Crump Manor, which has now become a historical landmark. They abandon their odd tour guide (Winona Ryder) and begin searching Crump Manor for something belonging to Hatbox. They are assisted by the Mariner spirit that followed Ben home initially who informs them that Crump needs someone to willingly give up their life and become Gracey Manor’s one-thousandth spirit for Hatbox to escape the mansion. The group discovers a secret passageway which is only large enough for Travis to enter. Travis climbs down and discovers Crump’s decapitated skull and hat. Travis takes the hat and then climbs out.

The trio makes it back to Gracey Manor. Ben has Travis stay inside the car for his own safety and tells the young boy to call his dad, who Travis has been talking to throughout the film. Ben and Kent break into the mansion and free Gabbie, Harriet, and Bruce. However, Crump takes control of his former hat and throws it into the fireplace. Crump also turns many of the spirits in the Manor against the living. Kent attempts to distract the malicious ghosts by leading them away. Meanwhile, Gabbie informs Ben that Travis’ father is dead, and Ben realizes that Crump is going to use Travis as his needed willing soul due to the boy’s grief over his lost father. Ben searches and finds Travis in the basement and convinces the boy to let go of his father.

With Travis saved, Ben and Gabbie confront Crump in the graveyard of the mansion. Kent also joins them as he has convinced the malicious ghosts to turn against Crump. Harriet frees Leota from her crystal ball, and Bruce retrieves a small portion of Crump’s hat from the fireplace and gives it to Harriet. Harriet uses Leota’s incantation spell to try to banish Crump to the afterlife. Crump tries to seduce Ben into giving up his life so that he can see Alyssa again. Ben appears to be tempted, but he ultimately reveals that he has made peace with losing Alyssa. Ben kicks Crump in the face and sends him back to the underworld.

In the aftermath, some of the ghosts decide to leave the mansion, including the Mariner ghost. However, many ghosts, including Leota, decide to stay at the mansion and live in harmony with Gabbie and Travis. Ben goes back to teaching. One day while he is leaving his apartment, he pets a cat who has been hanging out by his door and discovers that the cat’s name is Tater Tot, Alyssa’s favorite snack. The ghost fighting group reunites on Halloween for a party at the mansion where many of the ghosts still in residence make an appearance. Harriet regains full confidence in her psychic abilities, Kent becomes a real pastor, Travis is voted to the student council, and both Gabbie and Ben appear to find peace after the loss of their spouses.

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Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures released Haunted Mansion on July 28, 2023. Justin Simien directed the film starring LaKeith Stanfield, Rosario Dawson, and Owen Wilson.

User Rating: 2.82 ( 3 votes)
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