To say that A Haunted House - the Marlon Wayans comedy which would normally be considered one of the worst films of this or any year - was terrible, is a massive understatement. But it's not even the worse horror-spoof of 2013. No, that honor goes to the dead-on-arrival, Hell Baby (opening today and on VOD), a film so awful and unfunny that it makes A Haunted House feel like Citizen Kane.
What an incredible disappointment. Reno 911! alum Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant teamed up as writers and co-directors on Hell Baby, a film totally out of comedic sync from the get-go. Being a long-time fan of Lennon (which began for me with the outrageous sketch comedy show, The State), I have definitely come to expect great things from him. Comedy is a tough thing though and you're not going to hit a home run every time. But not everybody has a Hell Baby, a film so devoid of laughs and fun that it may take years to regain audience trust.
The usually funny Rob Corddry and Leslie Bibb are Jack and Vanessa, an expecting couple who move into a major "fixer-upper" that just so-happens to be a pretty straight-forward haunted house. Weird things begin to happen, not just their wise-cracking new neighbor (Keegan Michael Key) who keeps showing up in their home unexpectedly.
Shortly after moving in, Vanessa becomes possessed by a demon. Catching wind of the matter, Father Padrigo (Lennon) and Father Sebastian (Garant) are sent from the Vatican to investigate and possibly exorcise the demons from the new home.
Instead, all laughs have been exorcised from the film. Surely most of this must have seemed funny, but nearly every joke falls flat.
The greatest achievement the film brings us is how inexplicably unfunny a film can be despite being packed full of incredibly talented comedic actors. The State alums Michael Ian Black and David Wain, Upright Citizens Brigade and Childrens Hospital's Rob Huebel, The League's Paul Scheer, they all show up and bringing with them glimmers of hope, that are quickly snuffed out. Rob Corddry has never seemed so unfunny. "Unfunny" is a word I'm using often here, because there aren't too many other words required to describe Hell Baby. But the scariest thing about it had to be watching people who normally make you laugh, struggle with horrifically bad material.
So much talent, so few laughs. That is the story of Hell Baby.
Run Time: 1 hour, 33 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Rob Corddry, Leslie Bibb, Keegan Michael Key, Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon, David Pasquesi, David Wain, Michael Ian Black, Rob Huebel, Paul Scheer
Written & Directed by Robert Ben Garant & Thomas Lennon (feature-film debut)
Opens on Friday, Sept 6, 2013 (On Demand and check for show times).
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How to read Tom Santilli's "Star Ratings:"
- 5 Stars: Exceptional, must-see movie
- 4 Stars: Very good movie, not without flaws
- 3 Stars: The movie was just OK, leaves a lot to be desired
- 2 Stars: Pretty bad, a let-down, disappointing, but with some redeeming qualities
- 1 Star: Awful, sloppy, a total waste of time