Halloween comes every year, and every year the holiday grows as one of the most uniquely fun times of the year. It is true that the origins of the holiday date back to something that is very far away from what the date represents today. It has a dark and frightful origin, but nowadays, it is celebrated by all kinds of people in all kinds of contexts. In particular, kids have found a big love for the holiday. So it isn’t a surprise that there is so much Halloween content out there directed at kids. Under Wraps is the latest piece of content from Disney Plus that aims to become a classic for all members of the family. Is it successful?
Under Wraps is directed by Alex Zamm and stars Christian J. Simon, Malachi Barton and Sophia Hammons. The film is a remake of the film of the same name from 1997. Which has the recognition of being the first original Disney film for the Disney Channel. Now, with Disney Plus being one of the biggest streaming services in the world, the objective is to find new audiences for the classic story. In the film, three friends come across an ancient Egyptian mummy and befriend it. When a group of criminals wants to seize the mummy, only the kids can save their dead friend by putting it to rest before midnight on Halloween.
Creating a new Halloween classic is not an easy task, so why not remake something that worked in the past but with new clean visuals? That’s exactly what happens here in Under Wraps. The classic 1997 film could basically be considered lost inside the extensive Disney vault, and its presentation could be considered really lackluster when facing current standards, but the story has enough potential to be an affordable risk for the studio.
Let’s be clear. The film is aimed at very young kids. Both the tone, visuals, acting, and the story itself are all very simple to understand, and the jokes may only be funny to young kids. And it is this that is the biggest flaw in the film. The audience is a laser target on young kids, but the film doesn’t offer enough for the many parents that will end up watching the film with their kids. For this part of the audience, the film might become boring very fast, as there is no action or very high stakes involved in the story. Maybe a better balance between the dialogue and action could have made the film feel more exciting and fun overall.
The comedy is also pretty bland, even kids might find it kind of dull. Thankfully, the three main leads offer solid performances. Although you can see they are still diamonds in the rough, the young actors have amazing potential. It would not be a surprise to see these same actors develop further in the future.
Visually, Zamm doesn’t do anything special. Taking into consideration that this is a very low-budget effort, the film looks alright, very clean and well shot. But even when these elements are solid, the lack of entertaining visuals and some cool visual effects might hurt the movie when it comes to catching the attention of a certain type of kid. Those who are used to being bombarded by cool visuals and tons of colors might find the film lacking in that aspect.
Sometimes the film just has that TV movie quality that plagued so many productions during the 90s. It’s very strange to see such a huge company like Disney giving so very few resources for what could be a truly amazing experience for kids during the Halloween season. Films like Goosebumps have already proven that they can be successful without needing huge budgets. This sense of cheapness might hurt the film in the long run.
Disney Plus has been having a lot of trouble making popular content outside the Marvel and Star Wars shows. The streaming service really needs to up its game when it comes to delivering quality content to its subscribers. Efforts like Under Wraps are a good start, but this level of production will only take the service so far. It’s clear that the film has too much competition within its own streaming service. And with other services like Netflix delivering a wider variety of content, a movie like this feels more like an afterthought than an actual effort on Disney’s part to reinforce their portfolio of content.
Under Wraps is a very well-made film. Director Alex Zamm does his best with what he has, and the film is also lucky enough to have three good child actors that can anchor the story to themselves. Still, the film doesn’t have the impact that it could have, and it feels more like it was done to fill the quota with Halloween content. Instead of trying to create a film that can be liked by all kinds of audiences and that has the potential to become a franchise.
It’s good enough to be watchable, but maybe kids and adults will have the will to rewatch this for a long time. If ever.