Are you ready to enter the “Haunted Mansion?”
The live-action movie, based on the beloved Disney theme park attraction, is materializing on July 28. And thanks to a brand-new trailer, which you can watch above, we now know a little bit more about what goes on when hinges creak in doorless chambers and strange and frightening sounds echo through the halls.
The new trailer gives a much better sense of the movie’s mixture of comedy and horror while also playing up its connections to the original attraction. You get the sense that much of the movie will be seen through the eyes of Ben (LaKeith Stanfield), a down-on-his-luck everyman who hosts ghost tours in New Orleans. He’s one of a group of paranormal experts called upon by a young single mother (Rosario Dawson) to try and rid her new home of 999 happy haunts. Among the others she calls upon are Tiffany Haddish’s psychic, Danny DeVito’s historian and Owen Wilson’s priest. If they can’t get rid of the ghosts, nobody can.
Among the nods to the original attraction, which opened at Disneyland in 1969 (after being teased for the better part of a decade) and Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in 1971, are the killer bride in the attic, the dueling hosts firing shots at each other, the stretching room, the séance room (where Haddish holds court), Jamie Lee Curtis as Madame Leota and, of course, the appearance of the Hatbox Ghost (Jared Leto).
The Hatbox Ghost has a long history with Haunted Mansion lore. He appeared, briefly, after the attraction’s opening in 1969 and appeared on a lot of the merchandise and product tie-ins from that time. But when the effect that the Imagineers were going for, where his head would disappear and then reappear in the hatbox he was holding, didn’t work, the figure was quickly removed. Since then the character gained a cultlike following and in 2015, for the resort’s 60th anniversary, a new version of the figure was placed in the Haunted Mansion. He’ll also appear in Walt Disney World’s version of the attraction sometime this summer. (We’d bet he’ll be in place before “Haunted Mansion” opens.)
Perhaps the best shoutout of the attraction is the chair that Haddish is sitting in, which looks remarkably like the Omnimover ride vehicles (or Doom Buggies) that slowly creep through the Haunted Mansion. What a scream.
The attraction was adapted once before, in 2003, with Eddie Murphy and terrific make-up effects by Rick Baker — but the less said about that version, the better.
“Bad Hair” and “Dear White People” filmmaker Justin Simien (who was once a plucky Disneyland cast member) directs this new iteration from a script by Kate Dippold.