In the early 2000s, Disney first attempted to bring their popular rides to the movies, with extremely mixed results. After kicking this experimentation off with the odd choice of The Country Bears in 2002, Disney went for two of their biggest attractions the following year with Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and The Haunted Mansion. Pirates would go on to become Disney’s biggest live-action franchise ever, all while managing to capture what people loved so much about the ride. And while the Eddie Murphy-starring Haunted Mansion did respectfully at the box office, it didn’t match the magic of the beloved ride and understandably got lost in the shadow of Jack Sparrow.

Now twenty years later, Disney has made another attempt at bringing one of their rides to the movies, this time with Dear White People director Justin Simien (who worked at Disneyland when he went to film school) and The Heat writer Katie Dippold. The result is a charming, just spooky enough, and often delightful film that captures the spirit (all 999 of them) of the over 50+-year-old ride.

'Haunted Mansion' Is Elevated by Its Wonderful Cast

Rosario Dawson, Owen Wilson, LaKeith Stanfield, Chase W. Dillon, Tiffany Haddish, and Danny DeVito on the poster for Haunted MansionImage via Disney

This new Haunted Mansion starts off by introducing us to Gabbie (Rosario Dawson) and her son Travis (Chase W. Dillon), who have moved to a mysterious mansion, and soon discover it to be filled with ghosts. To free their house of such spirits, they enlist the help of Ben (LaKeith Stanfield), a paranormal tour guide in New Orleans; Father Kent (Owen Wilson), a priest; the psychic Harriet (Tiffany Haddish); and historian Bruce Davis (Danny DeVito). Once someone walks into the mansion, they find themselves followed by one of the mansion’s 999 haunts, which means that these six must stay together in the mansion until whatever is going on gets cleared out. This includes coming face-to-face with the most terrifying ghost of them all, the Hatbox Ghost (Jared Leto), and receiving help from Madame Leota (Jamie Lee Curtis), a psychic who has become trapped in her crystal ball.


The Hatbox Ghost Welcomes Foolish Mortals With SDCC Exclusive 'Haunted Mansion' Poster [Exclusive]

It’s this ensemble, who is mostly stuck with each other, that makes Haunted Mansion so enjoyable. No matter what happens, it’s always appealing to watch how this group plays off each other. Stanfield brings a real heart to Haunted Mansion, as Ben is still dealing with the loss of his partner Alyssa (Charity Jordan), has a ball with the young Travis, and has great comedic timing with the entire cast. It’s especially a treat to watch Wilson, Stanfield, and DeVito together in a scene, and Haddish’s over-the-top approach to being a psychic fits well within the context of the film. It doesn’t take long before this sextet begins to feel like a family truly struggling with these ghosts together.