Disney’s Haunted Mansion revolves around an astrophysicist turned ghost tour guide, Ben Matthias, and a group of strangers he comes across while solving the mystery behind the haunted mansion. Ben Matthias met Alyssa at a New Year’s Eve party, and even though their professions were vastly different, they somehow found familiarity in it. Alyssa was a ghost tour guide, and she believed that both Ben and she were searching for the unseen. They eventually fell in love and got married, but unfortunately, Alyssa lost her life in a car accident. Ben could not recover from tragedy; he became reclusive and buried his sadness in alcohol. Ben left his scientific pursuits and took up Alyssa’s job as a ghost tour guide. He did not believe in ghosts, but his opinion drastically changed when he visited the Gracey Manor.
What Brought The Ghost Experts Under The Same Roof?
Ben had developed a camera for an experiment in spectral photography that was said to capture the ‘ghost particle.’ He hoped to communicate with his deceased wife through it, but he could not find her, and he eventually abandoned the project. When a priest knocked on his door and discussed his past experiment, he was a little taken aback. The priest requested that Ben travel to a mansion that was believed to be haunted and take pictures for the sake of the new owner, who was terrified. A haunted mansion sounded ridiculous to Ben, but when he was offered a good sum of money, he agreed to it. He realized that the battery of the camera had died down, but he did not care because, according to him, ghosts simply did not exist.
Ben met Gabbie and her son, Travis, who were camping in the hall area because they were terrified to go elsewhere. Ben pretended to take pictures, and he concluded that there were no ghosts and that it was simply their minds playing games with them. Ben returned to the Gracey Manor the very next day, admitting that he had made a mistake the first time. A ghost followed Ben to his apartment and has been tormenting him since then. Gabbie explained that they, too, tried to escape from the mansion, but the ghosts followed them and instructed them to return. Once someone steps into the mansion, there is no return. The same happened with Father Kent. Ben could no longer say with conviction that ghosts were pure fiction. Father Kent suggested that they gather more experts to deal with the situation. He was an exorcist. Ben had a ghost camera that actually worked, and he had taken pictures of a few mansion ghosts, but they needed others to help them solve the mystery. They decided to bring along a history professor with in-depth knowledge of haunted mansions in Louisiana, along with a psychic, to the team. The two new members soon figured out that leaving the mansion was not an option. With the help of Professor Bruce Davis, the group learned that there once lived William Gracey, who bought the mansion from an undisclosed owner, and that his wife tragically died of yellow fever. The mansion was mysterious, to begin with, and they soon found the seance room where Gracey and his medium, Madam Leota, held multiple sessions. Harriet, the psychic, suggested summoning the spirit of William Gracey to answer all their questions.
What Did The Crew Learn About William Gracey?
Upon making contact with the ghost of William Gracey, he suggested they summon Madam Leota. But a mad spirit stopped them from calling Leota and interrupted the séance. There was an evil presence who did not wish for the mystery to be solved. One night, Ben found a chest in the attic, and it consisted of a thick book and a ginormous crystal. As it turned out, the evil spirit had captured Madam Leota in the crystal ball, and she had been there for ages. In exchange for three dollars, she discussed the story of William Gracey.
After the death of his wife, Gracey was engulfed with grief, and he conducted several seance sessions with Madam Leota. But no matter how many times they tried to communicate with his wife, she never responded. By opening the bridge to Region Beyond, hundreds of spirits started to enter the moral world and continued to live in the Gracey Manor. Gracey assumed that his search for the spirit of his wife had finally succeeded when she started leaving messages for him. She wanted him to join her on the other side, but Madam Leota was confident it was not the spirit of Eleanor but that of someone evil. But William Gracey was suffering, and he gave up on his life in the hopes of reuniting with his wife. Leota realized that the evil spirit was extremely powerful and targeted grieving souls.
The spirit had trapped 999 souls in total and was searching for the final one to complete his ritual. There seemed to be a curse that confined the spirit to the mansion. And once the ritual was a success, the spirit would be able to leave the mansion. This explains why the spirit wanted humans to stay in the mansion. Leota added that the spirit was particularly powerful on full moon nights. Harriet concluded that they needed a banishment, and to do so, they had to find an object that the spirit once possessed. Since they were yet to know who the evil spirit was, Harriet suggested they attempt a reverse seance, aka astral projection. While Harriet showed confidence in her ability to do so, it was Ben who went through the experience. He entered the world of the ghosts, and he followed William Gracey. He was still searching for Eleanor, and upon being questioned, he admitted that he was to blame for the condition of the mansion.
Even though Gracey did not know who the dark spirit was, he stated that the spirit in the realm of ghosts had extraordinary powers, using which he forced other ghosts to do his bidding. All the spirits were afraid of him, and once he showed up, they all ran away. The dark spirit noticed Ben, and he tried to tempt him by stating that he possessed the power to offer Ben what he desired, which was to see Alyssa once again. Ben ran for his life, knowing it was bad news, and he returned to the realm of mortals. A police sketch artist ultimately helped Ben explain what the dark spirit looked like, and they finally figured out that the dark spirit was Alistair Crump.
Who Was Alistair Crump?
Gradually, in Haunted Mansion, we find out that Alistair Crump was abused by his father, Addison Crump, when he was a child. There were stories of how Alistair was thrown out of the house because his father believed he cried a little too much at his mother’s funeral. Addison wanted his son to behave like a man, and after being exiled, he was said to have disappeared. Alistair returned after the mysterious death of his father. He became an affluent business tycoon and threw elegant parties at the Crump Manor, but strangely enough, several of his guests were never found. It was believed that he participated in blood rituals to retain his wealth and power. After years of watching Alistair murder people, his staff joined forces and beheaded him. That was the end of Alistair in the mortal world, but as is evident, he continues to be a dreaded figure even in the world of the spirits.
Ben and Kent visited the Crump Manor, which was now converted into a bed and breakfast. They learned from the visitors that Crump’s head was said to be in the mansion since only his body was recovered after the murder. With the help of the spirit of the captain, they found the passage that led to the underground, where Crump buried all his victims, and his skull and hat were also found there. Ben and Kent returned to Gracey Manor, and they asked Travis to stay back in the car.
How did the crew destroy the dark spirit?
When Kent and Ben returned to the mansion, Bruce Davis welcomed them and stated that the war was over after Harriet used some spells. Davis did not sound his usual self, and it was eventually revealed that the dark spirit had possessed him and had held Gabbie and Harriet captive. Ben untied Gabbie and Harriet, and thus, Harriet began the banishment ritual. The dark spirit was powerful, and he swiftly threw the hat into the fire. Alistair needed one willing soul for his plan to succeed, and initially, he targeted Ben. But Ben had learned too much, and he would not be willing to submit his life to him; hence, Alistair chose Gabbie’s son, Travis. He had lost his father a year ago and was elated when his father communicated with him. But he did not know that it was not his father but the dark spirit.
During Haunted Mansion‘s ending, Alistair lures Travis to a secret passage, and the crew divides themselves into small groups. Gabbie and Ben were in charge of saving Travis, while Harriet was asked to get hold of Leota, and Kent and Bruce were tasked with somehow getting hold of the hat in the fireplace. Leota suggested she and Harriet join forces to destroy the evil spirit, and to do so, Harriet had to use a powerful spell to free Leota from the crystal ball. Meanwhile, Gracey helped Ben find Travis. After hearing his father’s voice, Travis was convinced that his father had come to meet him. Ben knew what Travis was going through, and he promised to be there by his side to share his grief. At the end of the film, Travis shows trust in Ben and chooses him over the tempting offer made by the evil spirit in the form of his father. But Alistair refused to give up.
Alistair offered Ben a deal—for Gabbie and Travis to live, he wanted Ben to willingly offer his life. Meanwhile, Bruce managed to get a piece of the hat, and Kent convinced the ghost army to rise against their oppressor, Alistair Crump. Harriet and Leota came to Ben’s rescue, and with the piece of hat in hand, she chanted spells that forced Alistair to return to resting peace. At the end of Haunted Mansion, the motley crew managed to destroy the evil spirit and bring peace to Gracey manor. The good spirits continued to live in the mansion, and both Gabbie and Travis did not mind. The spirit of the captain was returned to the sea, just as was promised.
After returning home, Ben found a cat at his doorstep—the cat had been roaming in front of his house for quite some time. Upon checking his collar, he found that it was named “Tater Tot.” Harriet had told Ben about ghost winks, a phenomenon where ghosts who traveled to the realm beyond communicated with their loved ones through small gestures. Alyssa loved Tater Tot, and he immediately felt that she was somewhere watching him from a distance. She was perhaps proud of Ben, and she wanted to express her love for him. He had been looking for a sign for a long time now, and it finally happened.
At the end of Haunted Mansion, we get to know that Ben and Gabbie have started seeing each other. They showed affection for one another while solving the mansion mystery, and Ben also shared a special bond with Travis. The crew got together on Halloween and celebrated the day with their spirit friends. Things ended on a happy note at Gracey Manor.