Home is where the haunt is for us this year! Disney’s spooktacular remake of the classic theme park attraction ride – Haunted Mansion – has finally arrived after a pause from its initial announcement.
The trailer for Haunted Mansion appears to be delivering full-front on the family-friendly horror genre. The 1:44 teaser follows the familiar plot of the 2003 misfire starring Eddie Murphy, but will arguably remain more faithful to the narrative of the adored theme park ride. In particular, the trailer builds an atmosphere of both suspense and humor, invoking some of the recognizable themes that we've witnessed in the renowned Goosebumps series.
Haunted Mansion‘s plot
The trailer opens strong on the terror front with a mother and son arriving at their new home – which happens to be a run-down site with hoary ‘do not enter’ signage on the old dirt path leading to the property. It’s at the 16-second mark of the trailer that we are introduced to the first ghostly apparition who is residing there. It’s important to note at this point, if this spirit is any indication of what’s to come, we’re in for a chilling couple of hours. Enlisting the help of a disparate group of ‘spiritual experts’, the family attempts to banish the spirits that are inhabiting the site.
The director of the project, Justin Simien, is a lifelong fan of the treasured attraction. As a former employee of the park, Simien cultivates his love for the attraction and pays homage to this in the opening section of the trailer. We can hear the faint melody of ‘Grim Grinning Ghosts’ – a small nod to Simien’s determination to remain faithful to the attraction after all these years, which fans of the park are sure to appreciate.
The character line-up for this 2023 production sees some changes from the original film adaptation. First and foremost, the Hat-Box Ghost is one of the leading characters from the ride that did not make the cut for 2003 production. Although the Hat-Box Ghost is withheld from the trailer, we know that this character is set to be portrayed by Jared Leto – who has most recently been credited for the underwhelming 2022 superhero film, Morbius. We can expect to see little of this character in the lead-up to the release to create anticipation for the antagonist.
The stacked cast of Haunted Mansion
Disney is teaming up with some star-studded names for the horror movie. This is likely in the hopes of avoiding the monumental flop that the Eddie Murphy and Terence Stamp adaption observed. Katie Dippold wrote the script for this one and previously worked on the female-leading 2016 Ghostbusters, which did not perform well at the box office.
Collaborating with former Disney alumni, Haunted Mansion is teaming up with Rosario Dawson (The Mandalorian’s Ashoka Tano), Owen Wilson (Loki’s Mobius M. Mobius) and Danny Devito (Hercules’ Phil) who all take leading roles in the project.
Alongside them is scream-queen actress Jamie Lee Curtis, as well as Winona Ryder who plays the beloved Joyce Byers in Stranger Things, and Schitt's Creek's iconic Dan Levy. We can be hopeful that this sprinkling of star power may be the saving grace that this Disney property needs to be successful this time around.
Ongoing production delays
Haunted Mansion was first revealed to be in the pipeline in August 2020 and officially announced three months later. Since then, the updates on this project have been few and far between, and have been left behind in the slate of upcoming releases.
The D23 Expo in November 2022 provided more details about the film and previewed an exclusive clip with the crowd, before the queen herself, Jamie Lee Curtis, took to the stage in a Haunted Mansion doom cart. The film was originally scheduled for March 10th this year, and later delayed to August 11th. Unfortunately, now the project is booked for some time late this year – with a date yet to be confirmed.
With any luck, the release of the trailer and poster will provide the hype that this project not only deserves, but desperately needs. Personally, I think we can be hopeful that Simien will do justice to the attraction.
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