Interview: Justin Simien Talks Haunted Mansion

The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland may be my favorite attraction at the park. And yes, I’d appreciate a fun movie that brings the ride’s charm to the big screen (read our review). No, that was not the 2003 version. However, the latest feature bringing the “hitchhiking ghosts” to theatres was a good time, with a bit of heart. Justin Simien’s take on Haunted Mansion is an entertaining feature. It’s cute, it’s funny, and some of the ghostly visions are even a little spooky.

A few weeks back, we spoke with Justin about the new film. It’s been a long while since I’d talked to Mr. Simien, and it was terrific to see him again. The filmmaker talked about taking on the film and the many levels of the world-famous attraction that ended up in the movie. We also delved into the performances of LaKeith Stanfield and the always-funny Tiffany Haddish. It was a pleasure speaking to Justin again, and I’m happy to say, as a fan of that groovy little ride, I enjoyed the cinematic extension to the Haunted Mansion. The film opens in theatres near you this Friday!

Haunted Mansion stars Rosario Dawson (Daredevil), Chase Dillon (The Harder They Fall), Owen Wilson (Loki), Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip), LaKeith Stanfield (Get Out), Danny DeVito (It’s Always Sunny in Philidelphia), Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween), Winona Ryder (Stranger Things), Jared Leto (Morbius), and Dan Levy (Schitt’s Creek).

Directed by Simien (Dear White People) from a screenplay by Katie Dippold (Ghostbusters), the film has the following synopsis: In this mysterious adventure, a doctor (Dawson) and her 9-year-old son (Dillon), looking to start a new life, move into a strangely affordable mansion in New Orleans, only to discover that the place is much more than they bargained for. Desperate for help, they contact a priest (Wilson), who, in turn, enlists the aid of a widowed scientist-turned failed-paranormal expert (Stanfield), a French Quarter psychic (Haddish) and a crotchety historian (DeVito).


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JimmyO is one of’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.