A HAUNTED HOUSE
* (out of 5)
January 11, 2013
Marlon Wayans as MALCOLM
Essence Atkins as KISHA
Marlene Forte as ROSA
David Koechner as DAN THE SECURITY MAN
Nick Swadson as CHIP THE PSYCHIC
Cedric the Entertainer as FATHER WILLIAMS
Directed by: Michael Tiddes
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
This review of “A Haunted House” is actually quite intimidating. After all, when a movie is as whisper-thin in premise and execution as this one is, I was wondering if I’d be able to pound out 400 or more words at all. Let’s see if I can…
While found footage movies have cropped up over the years with films like “Cannibal Holocaust,” it wasn’t until the advent of video that these films took off. It was the release of “The Blair Witch Project” that proved these movies could be wildly profitable, but it wasn’t until recently that the genre really took off, fueled by horror movies like “Cloverfield” and the “Paranormal Activity” films. Now, it’s all over the place, and there’s little sign of it stopping.
Frankly, I’m stunned that anyone with the last name Wayans took so long to make a spoof of the genre. (Actually, there’s another found footage spoof that’s hitting video right about the same time called, “30 Nights of Paranormal Activity with the Devil Inside the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Aren’t we all looking forward to that one?)
The interesting thing about “A Haunted House” is that Marlon Wayans is flapping alone in the breeze, with none of his famously funny family helping him out. This doesn’t bode well for a “Scary Movie” type of film, with Keenan Ivory off doing god knows what. Still, there was a modicum of hope considering the cast included funnymen David Koechner, Cedric the Entertainer and Nick Swardson.
But alas, a funny movie experience was not to be the case.
“A Haunted House” is exactly what you’d expect from a spoof of found footage movies released in January without advanced screenings for critics. That is to say, it’s tired, dull, unoriginal, not very funny and overall a pretty bad film.
The film follows a man named Malcolm (Wayans), whose girlfriend Kisha (Essence Atkins) moves in with him. He decides to document their new life on video. However, the video cameras soon capture evidence of a haunting, and Malcolm learns that Kisha came into the relationship with her own demon she earned after she sold her soul to the Devil for a new pair of shoes.
Had “A Haunted House” been a twenty-minute short film or a sketch on the old Wayans show “In Living Color,” it might have been bearable. There are some mildly funny lines and gags, and a fast-paced delivery might have helped things out. However, the movie’s scant 82-minute running time seems bloated and tedious with what is given to us on the screen.
Rather than weaving a somewhat sustainable story into the film (and art of the spoof that was lost after Mel Brooks stopped making good movies), “A Haunted House” is nothing more than a series of gags and seemingly improvised slapstick. Sure, it’s spoofing disjointed movies like “Paranormal Activity,” but it has even less focus that that one, both literally and figuratively.
The lack of family support in Wayan’s film is seen with a lower level of professionalism that even comes through on a found footage film. It’s a chore to watch, with very few funny payoffs.
Yeah, the fart scene got me giggling, but a good comedy is not made by funny farting alone.
In the end, the only thing scary or funny about “A Haunted House” is how you could lose money watching it.