Inside of a room with infant twin ghosts, there’s a “Monsters” poster on the wall. That’s paying homage to Universal’s Monsters, those ’30s ad ’40s era horror classics with their evocative atmosphere. That atmosphere is part of Luigi’s Mansion. Even the set-up, with Luigi invited to a Transylvanian-like mansion, that’s cloaked in familiar moonlight and frequent lightning strikes. That’s design straight from the Universal aesthetic.
Consider too the ghostly twins; they’re just pre-schoolers. They’re ghosts. How depressing. Luigi’s Mansion doesn’t stick the horror landing, much as it suggests it. This remake casts Luigi as a terrified participant, with a carefully animated shuffling of his feet as he walks, teeth chattering, flashlight shaking. Control is frequently removed as he’s overcome by jump scares from rubbery, rounded ghosts. Outside of their concepts (including gluttons, worked-to-death butlers, and yes, kids) Luigi’s Mansion remains on par with Casper in terms of callow freak outs.
Despite being a Halloween ghost story, Luigi’s Mansion is cheery. The ghost-busting is done with a vacuum system, complete with a backpack. An honorary Ghostbuster, Luigi is. Nearing 20-years old at this point since its GameCube debut, Luigi’s Mansion applies a nostalgic, sometimes frenzied cat-and-mouse style action and reflexive puzzle solving where knocking on a wall might produce a ghost. The charm is relentless, even in cobweb-covered, unlit hallways.