Holiday carolers might be polishing their song lists right now, but we’re already thinking ahead to spring. When temperatures begin
A Haunted House
Now people would say that if you go to a movie like A Haunted House, then you get whatever stupidity you deserve, but I’m not one of them. Now granted, after seeing the movie, I think I hoped too much that it would be a return to the first few Scary Movie’s, which might have had their gross-out moments but also had some really funny stuff in them. This is not a return to the golden age of spoofs on popular horror movies. It’s more like a movie that reminds you how much funnier the other ones were in comparison. What’s weird is that there are some damn funny posters for this film that you can see online. Too bad they didn’t put that much thought into the movie. Anyway . . .
Malcolm is excited that his girlfriend, Kisha, is moving in with him, but that excitement is short lived. Kisha hits and kills Malcolm’s beloved dog before even pulling fully into the driveway. It’s not long after that trouble starts in the house, with a door slowly opening, and then some other weird things happen and soon we’re off to a full parody of Paranormal Activity.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a few funny scenes in this film, some having to do with man-child Malcolm and Kisha’s struggle over his décor and all her stuff, others coming from some of the hauntings, like when Malcolm gets whacked on the head with a frying pan from the overhead rack.
I liked some of the jokes in this film, like the fact that Kisha sold her soul to a demon for designer shoes. The funniest scene for me was when they decided to ignore all the supernatural stuff happening around them and just go on as their lives were normal. The glass Kisha is using flies off the table and her only reaction is to say “Glad we switched to plastic.” Then the pots fall off the rack and Malcolm says “We’ve got to get that thing looked at.” Another funny scene is when Malcolm’s cousin Kenny comes by to help out with the ghost. His reaction to the ghost is damn funny. I wished they’d done more things like that, rather than falling back on the tired jokes we’ve seen from the Wayans brothers (though it’s just Marlon here) time and time again. Then there are just some scenes that are absolutely weird and sort of funny, like when Malcolm pretends that his stuffed dog is Kisha and he has a perhaps too long “sex scene” with it.
While the trailer makes you think the movie’s going to spoof more than just Paranormal Activity, it doesn’t. Except for one joke about The Devil Inside, A Haunted House sticks to lampooning the best parts of PA, with some things more successful than not.
I think the failure of A Haunted House lies in its narrow scope. By just focusing on one movie, it misses out on a lot of jokey opportunities to be had in the found footage horror movies. And they really went for the most obvious comedy, instead of doing that and digging a bit deeper to make some things more funny. The reason the Scary Movie’s were successful is that they turned a lot of the horror scariness into silliness that you didn’t necessarily consider when you were watching the film, and it never focused solely on just one movie, it spread the jokes out so that none of the material felt too stretched.
I was honestly hoping that the dead dog’s ghost had something to do with the haunting, but apparently the dog was just a random joke for the beginning rather than a part of the movie. It’s too bad, because that might’ve actually been pretty funny.
Marlon Wayans and Essence Atkins are passable actors, but playing a normal character hasn’t ever been a strength of Marlon, he needs a straight man to play his comedy off of. While Essence is good for some of the more romantic funny stuff, like when he’s trying to tape them having sex, she’s just not the equal of someone like Shawn or Wayans as a comedic foil.
There’s a lot of stuff in A Haunted House that we’ve already seen in other Wayans movies, if you’ve watched one you know what I’m referring to so I won’t even bother listing it out, but I’m not sure even fans of their past work will like this one. The audience would’ve been better off if the “found footage” here had never been discovered at all.