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Davis Journal

The Movie Guru: ‘Haunted Mansion’ has unexpected depth, while ‘They Cloned Tyrone’ clever but dark

Jul 28, 2023 10:49AM ● By Jenniffer Wardell
Credit for photo ©Disney

Credit for photo ©Disney

Haunted Mansion (in theaters)

The new “Haunted Mansion” is both better than expected and not quite as good as it could have been.

Instead of the theme park tie-in schlock we were all expecting (re: Eddie Murphy’s 2003 version), the movie offers a surprisingly tender look at struggling against grief. It’s also a sweet story about a group of misfits coming together to become a family, anchored by a fantastic performance by LaKeith Stanfield. Add in plenty of adventure and good interplay between the characters, and you have a fun night at the movies that has some real weight to it.

The movie even manages to use Jared Leto well. Since he’s the main villain of the movie, he’s allowed to indulge in the full extent of his creepiness. However, his role meant that he never interacted with anyone else in the cast, seemingly never went on set, and in fact isn’t even visible onscreen except as a painting or CGI. I dare say it’s the perfect way to include Jared Leto in a movie.

Sadly, the movie misses perfection in other areas. You can see moments where an older, more schlocky version of the script is still evident, most often during awkward moments or jokes that fall flat. It seems sometimes that the two versions of the movie are fighting, when it’s clear who should have won from the beginning.  

In the end, though, that shouldn’t be enough to scare off audiences. There’s still plenty of spooky good story to go around.

Grade: Three stars

They Cloned Tyrone (Netflix)

If you’re looking for a dark, clever sci-fi film with a lot to say about race and class, you need to watch “They Cloned Tyrone.”

The movie offers an interesting twist on old-school sci-fi horror, a more fleshed-out version of what once might have been a good “Twilight Zone” episode. Though it can feel padded-out at times, there’s some genuine chills and a couple of surprise moments that land well. With plenty to say about the state of our world and an ending that’s both hopeful and unsettling, it lingers in your memory in just the right way.

The experience is helped along by a great cast. Jamie Foxx is there to inject some lightness into the movie, and even his darker scenes have humor to them. John Boyega is the heart of the movie, anger and pain that takes on layers as the story progresses. Teyonah Parris is a delight every moment she’s onscreen, and now I want to see her in even more movies.

Though there’s a lot to recommend the movie, it does stumble at times. The story takes too long to get started, spending more time than it should establishing that all of the movie’s main characters have tough, miserable lives. It’s also far too dark in a purely visual sense, with some scenes so poorly lit it’s nearly impossible to tell what’s going on.

Still, a few growing pains shouldn’t get in the way of you experiencing this dark, fresh take on classic sci-fi.

Grade: Three stars

Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Utah Film Critics Society. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at [email protected].