Disney’s New Haunted Mansion Movie Brought Friendly Frights and Familiar Faces to D23

Disney’s New Haunted Mansion Movie Brought Friendly Frights and Familiar Faces to D23

Last night at Disney’s D23 Expo 2022, we got our first look at the new Haunted Mansion movie, directed by filmmaker Justin Simien (Bad Hair). Simien was on hand to show attendees a teaser of what to expect from his happy haunt adaptation of Disney Parks’ beloved ride.

With an ensemble that includes Rosario Dawson, Lakeith Stanfield, Owen Wilson, and Danny DeVito, plus a whole new slew of names set to cameo in the film; there’s going to be at least 999 ghosts and humans to keep track of — Simien seems up for the task. He told the crowd he used to work at Disneyland and counts himself as a fan of the attraction, and he hopes to bring his love of it and the city of New Orleans to the heart of the feature.

In the footage we saw we were introduced to Dawson’s character and her young son, who have moved into the mansion, as they look over plans of the grounds which reveal a secret hidden room. I got some Casper and Jumanji vibes with the fun mystery house moments that led to the discovery of the hidden seance room, which evoked the energy of those iconic horror and adventure gateway gems. It really set the tone of how the mansion’s problems might lie beyond fixing a pipe or two… like regions beyond.

The presentation leaned in on how the movie will highlight the Easter eggs for Disney fans, with lots of cameos from the likes of Winona Ryder (Stranger Things) and Dan Levy (Schitt’s Creek), and ended with the Doom Buggy reveal that horror queen Jamie Lee Curtis will portray Madame Leota, the iconic disembodied psychic head inside a crystal ball.

All exciting announcements aside, I was definitely hoping to see more spooky camp and learn more about the family the movie is set to centre on. We got some narration from DeVito’s character who shared that the mansion simply appeared “fully built” after a fire in 1788 and quickly gained infamy as a hub for the strange and supernatural with a string of tragic events. The Haunted Mansion basically has a tome of ideas behind it and mythology for its various inhabitants, so I get the sense that this movie will have the characters navigate the various tales fans hope to see while zeroing in on the ride’s icons. Yes, there’s a look at the reflection of the Hatbox Ghost, who Simien mentioned TikTok claims Jared Leto will be playing (note: he didn’t refute the rumour). We also got a glimpse of Constance Hatchaway, the Black Widow Bride who inhabits the mansion’s attic. Stanfield is set to play a tour guide that may end up moonlighting as a paranormal investigator as he begins to unravel the mansion’s many mysteries. A foolish mortal endeavour, methinks.

The Haunted Mansion is due in 2023.

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