Marlon Wayans returns to the genre he helped bring to a new generation with A Haunted House, a spoof on the hidden camera/found footage craze. While it’s not as clever or funny as his Scary Movie, it’s passable for fans of this type of film.
Malcolm (Wayans) and Kisha (Essence Jenkins) move into their dream home, but soon learn a demon also resides there. When Kisha becomes possessed, Malcolm – determined to keep his sex life on track – turns to a priest, a psychic, and a team of ghost-busters for help.
Taking many of its cues from the Paranormal Activity series, A Haunted House substitutes scares for fart jokes and sex related comedy. It’s far from imaginative, but Wayans and co-writer Rick Alvarez go for quality over quantity, hoping that the barrage of vulgarity raises at least one laugh. Occasionally (and dominantly in the first act), it succeeds and it’s hard to not smile. But these occurrences are few and far between, with the majority of gags inducing cringes that should make anyone over the age of fifteen embarrassed to have paid money to see this.
Wayans and Jenkins show surprising chemistry as the suffering couple, especially towards the beginning as Kisha moves in: their scenes appear more improvised than those seen later in the film, making for a more entertaining watch. Unfortunately this doesn’t last, and as more characters join, the less fun the film becomes. Straight-To-DVD regular David Koechner gives a welcoming yet predictable turn as Dan, a racist camera installer and reality TV wannabe. Nick Swardson grates as Chip the Psychic, and Cedric The Entertainer has his moments as the reformed priest called in to exorcise the demons.
A Haunted House will likely please fans of Wayans and modern spoofs. It’s all about expectations with this one: if there isn’t any, there’s a chance that the average viewer may get a chuckle or two from it. Humor wise, it aims for the toilet and pees all over the seat, but judging from this and the recent Scary Movie 5 it’s probably about time to flush on spoof movies.