A Scary Return to Movies Based On Disney Rides That Work

17th Dallas International Film Festival

By Daniel R. Durrett

Looking for the perfect kids Halloween film this season and the kids will boo your 5th suggestion of Hocus Pocus? Well, Disney knocked this one out of the park, Haunted Mansion is the best rendition of the many attempts at making the famous Disney ride into a movie.
An ensemble cast is led by Rosario Dawson (Ahsoka, Sin City) who portrays Gabbie who purchases the house as an amazing fixer-up and moves in with her son to discover the house is haunted. Shocker, I know, but for the safety of her child enlists significant assistance, from others to keep her son safe.

Gabbie’s’ son is played by the youthfully accomplished Chase Dillon (The Harder They Fall, The Underground Railroad)

Including a priest, Father Kent brought to life by Owen Wilson (Wedding Crashers, Bottle Rocket). Father Kent enlists assistance from a talented but somber widower Ben Mathis portrayed by LaKeith Stanfield (Sorry to Bother You, Selma).

Ben has developed technology that can record ghosts but doubts his work abilities the Father knows he can help save the family with his knowledge.

They soon realize they will need a dream team of sorts to accomplish saving their lives from the house adding them to the list of permanent guests. To the group they add a Medium, the powerful but possibly fraudulent Harriet, adding wonderful levity to the story is Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip, Night School).

No better addition to any cast in my opinion than Danny DeVito (It Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Matilda) as the Historical expert Professor Bruce Davis. Seriously, DeVito is the greatest acting condiment on the buffet of either the stage or the screen.

Trapped in this Haunted Mansion a cast of characters work to survive an unbreakable connection to these hauntings and ghastly spirits demand attention. Our cast of unlikely heroes attempt to solve the houses’ needs and survive the process. This humorist-driven cast is the real dream team that merits a viewing at any age.

Their meander within the story’s moments was the most negative aspect of this film for me as a scary film fan. But I am sure it must have been due to the cast and their need to run off the page from the script. With this cast, I am willing to make that trade.

The lighting and the sets felt as dusty or true to the original ride as they could and the camera work to stretch the view was as close as you could get to the original ride in the amusement parks. This may have been the true complaint from most of the other Haunted Mansion films.

The Eddie Murphy lead cast is also on Disney Plus for streaming and its review can be found from the link below.


Director vision the previous efforts were pushed to a director’s thought process when creating the film based on a ride thought basis. It’s almost hard to remember that this in many ways all started with the Pirates of the Caribbean but because they have made so many successful films we forget that’s a ride at Disney! Who’s on the ride? Now.


The film could not be more beautifully connected to the source material, this may be one of the best parts of the viewing of the film. You will want to watch this on the biggest screen and turn the lights down low before you pop your popcorn.

The connection anyone who has from riding the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland or Disneyworld will see a crazed number of nods and references, both subtle and in your face. Including Madame Leota brought to life from inside a crystal ball portrayed in a spot-on performance by Jamie Lee Curtis (True Lies, Halloween).

Hidden well through the special effects of the film is Jared Leto (Dallas Byers Club, My So-Called Life) adding presence to the mystic nature of adding reference to the ride is usher from the ride the Hatbox character, an Usher in the ride.

It is PG-13 but leans more to the silly scary than Walking Dead Zombie scary. So, depending on your kids it can be a fun family watch as a group, catch this soon-to-be horror classic streaming on Disney Plus, today

15th Dallas International Film Festival