Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Haunted House

Directed by Michael Tiddes.
2013. Rated R, 86 minutes.
Marlon Wayans
Essence Atkins
Nick Swardson
Andrew Daly
Alanna Ubach
Cedric the Entertainer
Marlene Forte
David Koechner
Dave Sheridan
Affion Crockett
J.B. Smoove

Today is a big day. This is when Malcolm's (Wayans) girlfriend Kisha (Atkins) is moving in with him. He has a spacious house with a pool and a jacuzzi and a housekeeper named Rosa (Forte) to help him maintain it all. Of course, the second Kisha gets there, strange things start happening. It soon becomes apparent that there is a ghost in the house. And since this is a found footage movie, every oddity is caught on camera. Just so you don't go thinking this has any chance of being scary I'll let you know that this is a parody of the Paranormal Activity franchise. Therefore, comedy, or something like it, ensues.

The setup is familiar. Things happen, with the most extreme stuff occurring during the wee hours of the night. In the mornings, our loving couple watches the footage to see what went on for themselves. The difference between this and the movies it pokes fun of, plot wise, is that this is really all about sex. Nearly every joke overtly references some form of the act or another. This includes a rather extended scene of a threesome involving Malcolm and a pair of teddy bears. You might laugh yourself silly, become too uncomfortable to laugh, or both. Like much of the movie, it goes out of its way to be crass. A Haunted House also leans toward stereotypes and male homophobia (being completely okay with female homosexuality, naturally). Take it, or leave it.

Now that you know what to expect out of this movie, I can probably stop writing. However, I do want to touch on some of the highlights. For me, the biggest is Marlene Forte as Rosa. She is the one who made me laugh most consistently. She also takes what could be just a sliver of a character and forms a fully realized being. To be perfectly honest, it probably helps that we only get her in small doses. I'm judging by the plethora of supporting players who come to the house at some point. Most are at least a little funny for the first few minutes after they show up, but manage to wear out their welcome. Another positive is that whether you love it or hate it, it's not boring. The run time is thankfully short. On top of that it moves quickly because things are constantly happening that grab our attention.

While I wouldn't call A Haunted House good, I will say it wasn't nearly as painful as it could have been. It's better than another Wayans Brothers horror spoof, the Scary Movie franchise. Unlike those, it doesn't just re-enact random scenes from a bunch of movies appearing schizophrenic and pulling us in way too many directions. A Haunted House uses the template provided by Paranormal Activity, even to the point of imitation, but creates its own self-contained and cohesive narrative. You need not have seen twenty other films to get most of the jokes. Really, you don't even have to have seen Paranormal Activity. It stands up, or falls down depending on your tolerance for humor that might be beyond raunchy, on its own accord.

MY SCORE: 5.5/10

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