Never before has the spoof of something made me want to watch the original to wash the bad taste out of my mouth, until now. “A Haunted House” (trailer below) is from the juvenile mind of Marlon Wayans (“Scary Movie 2”), and pokes fun at the found footage horror genre (primarily the “Paranormal Activity” series). The film stars Marlon Wayans, Essence Atkins (“Sister Sister”), David Koechner (“Snakes on a Plane”), Nick Swardson (“Reno 911!”), Cedric the Entertainer (“Code Name: The Cleaner”), and is directed by Michael Tiddes (“Dance Flick”). Normally this is a pretty funny group of people (minus the director), but they just didn’t work in this.
The weak excuse for a plot has Malcolm (Wayans) and Keisha (Atkins) move into their dream home, but they soon learn a demon also resides there. When Keisha becomes possessed, Malcolm - determined to keep his sex life on track - turns to a priest (Cedric the Entertainer), a psychic (Swardson), and a team of ghost-busters (Koechner) for help.
The first problem with this is that Marlon Wayans wrote it. He has never been particularly funny in the past, and he writes on a 6th grade level. Fart jokes, homosexual moments, and sex montages can only take you so far in a comedy, but it seemed to be all he had. While they did a good job with the use of the cameras (it really was just like “Paranormal Activity,” but that isn’t hard to do) they still managed to make it wear out its welcome (having Atkins continuously get up to do things in her sleep gets old fast).
“A Haunted House” actually begins with Wayans’ dog being run over by his girlfriend that is moving in, and they take this horrible scene, and somehow try to make it funny. They continue to drag out this horribly awkward and unfunny scene for almost five minutes. It was very distasteful, non-funny, and somewhat offensive, but this was only the first of many scenes to appear that would leave a bad taste in my mouth. From the ghost raping two people (that they joke about often) to Cedric the Entertainer carving a Tic-Tac-Toe board onto a girl’s arm it seemed as if Marlon wrote this to be offensive with hopes that its juvenile and immature content would get a lot of laughs.
This wasn’t without some funny moments, but even I can be funny from time to time so that isn’t saying much. For a comedy to only have a few moments that are genuinely funny or unique, when the entire thing is meant to have you laughing, is a problem. The weak humor just didn’t work for me this time, and the bad acting only made it worse. There isn’t a single performance that stands out as being even OK. You get the feeling that everyone is kind of just there with exception to Essence Atkins who acts as if she is just happy to be back in a movie after being forgotten since “How High” was released. At least it looked like Marlon Wayans was having a blast (probably because he knows he is about to sucker a lot of people out of their money).
As a whole this was something I went into with low expectations, and I was still disappointed. From the horrible writing to the inappropriate and juvenile “humor” I can’t see how anyone would like this. What worries me the most is that a large amount of people in my theater were laughing almost throughout the entire flick. I sat back for a moment and thought “What has happened to our society that horrible writing, bad dialogue, terrible acting, and inappropriate humor can be so entertaining?” Keep in mind I also really enjoyed “Snakes on a Plane” for the mindless entertainment it provided, but it wasn't as offensive and distasteful as this. This is what “Idiocracy” warned us about. 1/5
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