During a New Year’s party, Ben Matthias, an astrophysicist developing a camera to detect dark matter, meets Alyssa, a ghost tour guide, and becomes entranced with her belief in the supernatural. Ben marries Alyssa, but she dies in a car crash, so he gives up his career and continues to run her ghost tour. Ben searches famous haunted places looking for signs of his wife, but he eventually becomes despondent and depressed when he finds no evidence of ghosts.
Years later, Gabbie, a doctor, and her son Travis move from New York into Gracey Manor to turn it into a bed and breakfast, only to learn that it is haunted by a variety of ghosts.
Ben is visited by priest and exorcist Father Kent, who hires him to photograph the ghosts at Gracey Manor. Ben is initially incredulous until he returns home and is haunted by a ghost Mariner who forces him to return to the mansion. Ben learns that Gabbie, Travis, and Kent have also fallen victim to hauntings, forcing them to return to the mansion.
Ben and Kent recruit Harriet, a psychic with legitimate powers, and steal blueprints to the mansion from haunted house historian Prof. Bruce Davis. The group finds a hidden séance room. Harriet manages to contact the spirit of Gracey, who writes a message instructing them to talk to the legendary medium Madame Leota. But before they can continue, a mysterious entity forces Harriet out of the house. Bruce arrives shortly afterwards and becomes haunted as well.
The group stays at the mansion where they proceed to look for Leota’s ghost. Ben goes into the attic where he runs afoul of a ghostly bride and finds a locked trunk. Upon examining the contents, they find a crystal ball which houses Leota.
Leota reveals that William Gracey bought the mansion and recruited Leota to try and contact the spirit of his dead wife Eleanor every night for a full year, releasing hundreds of ghosts into the mansion. An evil entity then tricked Gracey into taking his own life and trapped Leota inside her crystal ball. Harriet attempts to perform an astral projection for more answers but ends up sending Ben out of his body. He discovers Gracey as well as the evil entity, the Hatbox Ghost.
The next morning, Bruce takes Ben to get a sketch artist to draw up the Hatbox Ghost. He is identified as Alistair Crump, a rich heir who was abused by his father after his mother’s death and eventually expelled from the home. Upon reaching adulthood, he killed his fellow socialites out of revenge for being shunned by society, before being beheaded himself by his mutinous servants. The ghost of Crump proceeds to lock the mansion down but Ben, Kent, and Travis manage to escape. They find Crump Manor, which has become a historical site. They learn from the Mariner (who followed them) that Crump needs someone to willingly give up their life and become the mansion’s one-thousandth spirit in order to escape the mansion. Travis finds Crump’s hat, which they can use as part of a ritual to banish Crump back to the afterlife.
The three make it back to the Gracey mansion where Ben and Kent rescue Gabbie, Harriet, and Bruce, but Crump burns the hat. Ben also learns from Gabbie that Travis’ father is dead. Crump plans to use Travis’ grief to make him the willing, and final, ghost. Ben finds Travis and manages to convince him to let go of his father as they and Gabbie confront Crump in the graveyard. Kent manages to convince the ghosts to turn on Crump and join forces with them, and Bruce delivers a piece of the hat to Harriet who uses Leota’s incantation to banish Crump. Crump attempts to get Ben to give up his life willingly to see Alyssa again, but Ben reveals he has made peace with losing Alyssa before kicking Crump in the face and sending him back to the underworld.
Many of the ghosts decide to stay at the mansion, now in harmony with Gabbie and Travis. Ben goes back to teaching and, upon leaving his apartment, pets the cat who has been hanging out by his door, discovering its name is Tater Tot, a nod to his wife’s love for the snack. The group reunites on Halloween for a party at the mansion with the happy haunts. Harriet regains full confidence in her psychic abilities, Kent becomes a real pastor, Travis is voted to the student council, and Bruce maintains his newfound friendships.
Genre: Hollywood, Comedy, Drama, Family
Director: Justin Simien
Starring: LaKeith Stanfield, Tiffany Haddish, Owen Wilson, Danny DeVito, Rosario Dawson, Dan Levy, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jared Leto