There is smart stupid and then there is just plain stupid. Then there is A Haunted House, which blazes its way into a whole new category of stupid: Painfully, epically stupid. Other descriptive words and phrases that come to mind? Immature. Hard to sit through. Unfunny. Straight to video.
OK, that last one was just wishful thinking. A Haunted House is definitely hitting theaters, oddly enough, in the movie wasteland known as January and not around Halloween where it more fittingly belongs. But 2013 is off to a pretty awful start with this horrific misfire.
I recently had the honor of meeting Marlon Wayans in person for an interview and I really feel he is an extremely talented, gracious man. He was naturally funny and also took the time to meet and greet a group of children who were getting a tour at the museum in which the interview took place.
I don’t fault him for the kind of humor he is attempting. It’s just that this time around, very little worked.
The premise, I guess, was half-inspired, meant as a compliment. A Haunted House is a riff on the “found footage” genre of horror film, made popular again most recently with films like Paranormal Activity. In a different, recent interview, Marlon Wayans observed that very few black people tend to be in these types of horror movies. So what would happen if a ghost or ghoul decided to haunt the house of a black couple? Could be funny, right?
This question is answered, as are many others that weren’t even asked. Marlon Wayans and Essence Atkins play a young couple just moving into a new (albeit haunted) home. The ghost farts in bed, has sex with them and wreaks havoc on their house. Marlon’s first reaction? To move. Immediately. Like, pack the car and get gone. Had the movie only ended there. It’s never explained why then, in the very next scene, the couple is back and living with their new supernatural nemesis. Or maybe it was explained, half-heartedly.
This is a film where the wife kicks the invisible being in his “ghost balls.” Where Marlon feigns having sex with a stuffed animal. Where farts are funny, not once, but in several scenes throughout the film. Not exactly high-brow stuff.
They call in a priest (Cedric the Entertainer) to lift the demon spirit from their house. They bring in a home security expert (David Koechner) to equip the house with cameras. They call in a psychic (a closeted Nick Swardson) to communicate with the ghost. They even call in a gang of thugs, to kick the apparition off of their turf.
None of these talented comedians are able to rid the house of the spirit, or breathe any sort of life into this sophomoric script.
I happen to be a big fan of the parody genre, from the classics like Airplane and The Naked Gun (one of my all-time favorite films), to more recent successful parodies such as Not Another Teen Movie, Scary Movie or even the low-budget Parody Movie. But for every Hot Shots, there is a Mafia!. For every I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, there is an Epic Movie. And for every Loaded Weapon 1, there is A Haunted House.
Sometimes, a funny idea doesn’t carry with it the proper weight to pull off a feature-length film and is maybe best left as a skit or a punchline on stage. A Haunted House is a film containing one joke that has even fewer laughs.
Run Time: 1 hour, 26 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Marlon Wayans, Essence Atkins, David Koechner, Cedric the Entertainer, Nick Swardson
Screenplay by Marlon Wayans & Rick Alvarez
Directed by Michael Tiddes (feature-film debut)
Opens locally on Friday, Jan. 11, 2013 (check for show times).
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