MOVIE REVIEW: A Haunted House

SmartAss - 1781.NEF

Film: A Haunted House
Director: Michael Tiddes
Writer: Marlon Wayans, Rick Alvarez
Studio: IM Global Octane, Wayans Bros. Entertainment

There are few things harder to sit through than bad comedy. When a drama isn’t as heartbreaking as it should be, or a horror not as gut-wrenching as the trailer promises, people get upset, but when a comedy fails you can literally hear the disgust reverberate throughout the auditorium like an audible tidal wave of groans that roughly translates to “I just wasted $10 on this piece of crap?” Such was my experience with A Haunted House.

Parody films were once a crown jewel in the world of comedic cinema, but in recent years the adoration for such works has started to wane. This is no doubt due in part to the fact that anyone with a camera or social media connection can make their own parody or topical joke within moments of an event happening and share it with the world long before a studio production can come to fruition, but I would also wager at least $20 that the mid-2000s run of Date Movie, Meet The Spartans, and the truly atrocious Epic Movie left a bad taste on the pallet of moviegoers that has been hard to overcome. I wanted to believe Marlon Wayans could overcome this because it was he and his brother that helped usher in the return of spoof films with Scary Movie 1 & 2, but sadly that is not the case.

A Haunted House sells itself as a spoof of found footage, but the producers have apparently only seen a few films in the genre because the film only manages to touch on Paranormal Activity, The Devil Inside, and a few brief moments of The Blair Witch Project (a film Wayans’ made light of in the Scary Movie franchise at least once). The plot follows Wayans as he and his overdramatic (and horribly stereotypical) girlfriend move into a house that kinda-sorta resembles the generic suburban California home found in the first Paranormal film. Nearly five whole minutes pass before the first poop joke is made, and a whopping two more pass before the racism begins to fly. No horror references, unless you count poorly carrying a camera in a house, just well worn territory found on any late night FX or Spike TV program.

Once the story begins to crawl forward with the acknowledgement that Wayans’ home is indeed possessed by a spirit our characters finally have a reason to setup their home with cameras, record everything they do, and invite a rotating series of increasingly repulsive (and idiotic) guests into their home. There are no surprises here, as anyone who has seen a single trailer has legitimately viewed every turning point in the film: David Koechner is the nosey and racist camera installer, Andrew Daly is the best friend, Affion Crockett plays the leader of a gang who discovers the furniture has disappeared only to have it crash to floor moments later, Nick Swardson portrays a closeted psychic who wants to have sex with Marlon Wayans, and Cedric The Entertainer appears as a priest that plays “Tic Tac Toe” on the arm of a woman pretending to be the mother in The Devil Inside. This lack of revealing would be forgettable if these side characters brought anything interesting to the story, but their sequences are little more than thirty seconds of setup followed by one or two minute montages of one-liners strung together without any bearing on the events taking place.

As if the wasted supporting characters and lack of actual parody elements were not enough to send you running from A Haunted House, there is also the small fact that the story never goes anywhere. Viewers are forced to watch as Wayans and his girlfriend interact with their time killing co-stars, then are treated to painfully unfunny ghost rape jokes and no less than two dance montages before being offered a rushed final ten minutes that exist for the sole purpose of getting to a suitable point for credits to roll. I won’t give away the ending, but I will say that they borrow from one of the aforementioned franchises and does next to nothing to make light of it.

We may only be two weeks into 2013, but A Haunted House has inspired me to create a running list for worst film of the year. To say this film is a “swing and a miss” for parody films would be an understatement. This film is ninety minutes of poop jokes, tired racism, and offensive remarks that neither make light of the found footage genre nor entertain as a form a comedy in any way. If it were made on film, we’d call it a waste of celluloid, but since this is a wholly digital feature I’ll just say it should have been sent to the “Trash” and deleted long before it made its way to cineplexes. Any doubts Marlon Wayans has failed to evolve with the taste of moviegoers can now be put to rest. His comedy is as tired as the ambiguous found footage ending, and I highly doubt we’ll see more of it hitting the silver screen anytime soon.

SCORE: F

Review written by: James Shotwell

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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