Muppets Haunted Mansion (2021)

I started this journey with an adapted video game, and nearing the end I find myself watching an adapted amusement park ride—Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion meets the Disney-owned Muppets to create Muppets Haunted Mansion. The first period of The Muppets, 1976—1981, coincided with my pre-teen years, so I remember being allowed to stay up past my bedtime to watch it. Those episodes are on Disney+, and they’re still funny. They feel fresh and on the edge of anarchy, which is astonishing when you think how complicated it must have been to make back in the seventies. This film is a long way from that golden period.

Gonzo decides to miss his friends Halloween party to take up an invitation by The Great MacGuffin, his favourite magician, to stay a night at the most haunted mansion in the world. He takes his friend, Pepe the King Prawn, who thinks he’s going to party filled with celebrities. They arrive to find the house filled with ghosts, and a challenge to face their greatest fear and survive the night. If they don’t succeed, they will be stuck in the house for all eternity.

I watched it with my twelve-year-old daughter who hates anything scary. We both jumped a couple of times, enjoyed the songs, and had fun with it. It’s not a good film, it’s a corporate film, like an amusement park ride in fact, but there are enough little references for horror film fans to keep it interesting, and the nostalgia effect is strong. But Disney Muppets are not Jim Henson’s Muppets, that’s for sure.