Review: Disney’s Haunted Mansion – Comedic Scares for All

Disney’s Haunted Mansion ride is a classic attraction at Walt Disney World that many people love to experience. It’s a ride with goofy, lighthearted thrills that nod to classic horror cinema with a family-level twist. Because of its popularity, Disney made a live-action movie based on The Haunted Mansion back in 2003, which had a mixed reception for a variety of reasons. 20 years later, Disney is once again attempting to bring the fun of their attraction to the big screen in a new movie about the Haunted Mansion. However, everything this time is a bit more faithful to the spirit of the ride than the previous film, making it look and feel different than before.

Disney’s Haunted Mansion follows an astrophysicist named Ben Matthias, who years prior lost his wife to a car accident. He gives up on his career, takes up a job as a tour guide, and secludes himself to deal with the immense grief. One day he is visited by a priest named Father Kent at his home. Father Kent entices Ben about a job with a mother and child who moved into the Gracey Mansion, which they believe is haunted by ghosts. Ben is hired to take pictures of the ghosts in the mansion using a device he created to detect paranormal activity, leading him down a path connected to the history of the mansion. But while the spirits haunting Gracey Mansion are a problem, another great evil lurks in the shadows of the mansion looking to bring havoc to all who enter it.

Surprisingly, Haunted Mansion has a number of great moments that come close to being truly scary. Although the tone of the whole film is more comedic than horrifying, the timing and cinematography really play up the scary aspects of the mansion being haunted. But it never goes fully scary in any case. When the action picks up, you get some very neat-looking visuals that are heavily inspired by the attraction the movie is based on.

Some of the 999 ghosts that haunt the Gracey Mansion look creepy with a lot of effort put into the makeup and costumes. Eagle-eyed Disney fans will definitely notice some of the ghosts that are huge nods to the ones you would see on the Disney ride. The fan service does pass by quickly, so you might miss it entirely if you aren’t paying attention.

But a few things from the Disney ride are a bigger focus in the story of Haunted Mansion, including the Hatbox Ghost and the woman in the crystal ball, Madame Leota. Both are iconic parts of the original ride that play a major part of the plot in various ways, with Jared Leto as the Hatbox Ghost and Jamie Lee Curtis as Madame Leota.

They each look great as their characters, with the Hatbox Ghost looking very creepy and intimidating in some scenes. Both deliver good performances with the material they have to work with but don’t expect any Oscar-worthy performances in here. The movie is lighthearted and cheeky with its humor and scares, opting to be mindlessly fun as opposed to thoughtful or truly terrifying.

Ben Matthias is played by LaKeith Stanfield and is able to get a good range of emotions throughout the film. There are funny, sad, and suspenseful moments with him that work out very well as the movie goes on. His backstory is something that is hinted at throughout the film, leading up to a great monologue that feels heartfelt and sad. Unfortunately, Ben is probably the only character that gets to really flex a range of emotions and elicit empathy from the audience. His performance is complimented by Owen Wilson who plays Father Kent, who gets some of the best funny moments in the story. The banter between the two of them is fun, but over quickly. When Ben and Father Kent are together, the comedy of the movie really takes off, especially in scenes that involve ghosts chasing everyone around.

At the same time, the rest of the characters we meet aren’t as interesting in comparison. Most of them either feel one-note or are around for just a few bits of comedy. Rosario Dawson and Chase W. Dillion play Grace and her son who move into the Gracey Mansion, both of which feel lightly impactful to the events of the movie. There’s a minor plot point that involves Grace’s husband that feels important but is never truly explored, only being used as a means to set tension towards the latter part of the film. The two of them also don’t appear to do as much during some of the big events involving ghosts, when everyone is being chased or scared suddenly.

Two of the biggest wastes of potential in the film are Tiffany Haddish and Danny DeVito, as Harriet the psychic and Professor Bruce respectively. Both get some funny moments throughout the film that are great, with a few really good ones due to Tiffany Haddish’s timing and exaggerated reactions. The problem is that they are far between and over too quickly. While Tiffany gets to do things towards the climax of the film that are very important, it feels rushed. Danny DeVito almost gets forgotten after a certain point in the plot, where things begin to get dire for everyone. It would’ve been great if the story had more ways to incorporate the two more often or have other bits with them involving some of the ghosts that haunt the mansion.

But what about the ghosts themselves? Many of the ghosts are pulled from the Disney ride, but we don’t get to see most of them have any significance to the plot. The few that we do see have great moments that can be scary, with the film leaning heavily on the suspense of their reveal. But the majority of the 999 ghosts recede into the background, with a lot of emphasis on the Hatbox Ghost and Madame Leota. Could the movie have showcased a few more unique ghosts to terrify everyone? Yes, it would’ve been great to see. Would it have impacted the story enough to matter? Probably not.

Haunted Mansion is a movie that you can have fun watching during Halloween with friends and family. It’s not one of Disney’s best films based on their iconic attractions, but it’s not a terrible movie at the same time. It has some good moments that will give you a thrill, and maybe a scare or two. Disney fans will appreciate the care that went into it to be more faithful to the original attraction. But this is not a deep story that will have you wanting to rewatch it again outside of the spooky holiday where it best fits.

What do you think of Disney’s Haunted Mansion? Have you ever been on the ride that the movie is based on? What other movies do you want to see based on Disney attractions? Let us know your thoughts about all of this in the comment section!

Haunted Mansion
  • 70%
    Haunted Mansion - 70%


The movie has some funny and thrilling moments that work. There’s also some good fan service for those who know about the Haunted Mansion attraction at Disney. But a few characters are more shallow compared to others. The overall tone of the movie is more comedy than horror, which may or may not work for some viewers. The effects and costumes for the ghost look very good, with a few standouts that will make an impact. strives to be an apolitical, balanced and based pop culture news outlet. However, our contributors are entitled to their individual opinions. Author opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of our video hosts, other site contributors, site editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. This website contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. We disclaim products or services we have received for review purposes, as well as sponsored posts.

Discover a hidden easter egg

Jakejames Lugo
Jakejames Lugo
Jakejames Lugo is a writer and content creator that has been covering video games, movies, and various sides of entertainment for over a decade. He has published reviews and articles on many different outlets and continues to make content for different platforms. Jakejames also makes video content regularly for places like YouTube and TikTok, and share daily posts about gaming on social media.

A word from our sponsor


read more


other articles

Close Subscribe Card