I suppose Paranormal Activity and the like have had it coming. Marlon Wayans’ latest horror spoof aims to do what “South Park” did to “Ghost Hunters”; that is, to illustrate through all manners of crudeness and wicked humor the logical fallacies inherent in such source material. Unfortunately, A Haunted House manages to muster up the crudeness in spades, but the effort falls flat due to nonexistent humor and one of the most inept scripts ever known to man (despite slick as hell production values). It’s a shame that Wayans has seen fit to poke fun at the found-footage subcategory of horror flicks without actually making sure that his audience would take delight in the output. Nobody expected a truly good movie from A Haunted House, but this didn’t need to be an experience that was not only completely pointless and miserable but also shrill to the extreme.
Not only does this film extensively draw its gags from Paranormal Activity 1-4, but it also sprinkles in some of The Devil Inside, The Last Exorcism, and even a bit of late-breaking fare such as The Apparition for bad measure. The problem, of course (beyond the lack of genuine laughs), is that everyone is already so tired of found footage films that they almost make fun of themselves unless they bring something new to the table such as last fall’s Sinister. I’m almost certainly attempting to make a futile point because A Haunted House makes no wry statements on the essence of why found footage movies are supposed to be scary in the first place. Instead, it aims for two main notes: (1) Offensive; and (2) Ear-splitting. And in those two regards, the film succeeds mightily.
At the beginning of the story, Malcolm (Wayans) helps Keisha (Essence Atkins) move into his bland, suburban home. Unbeknownst to him, she’s being followed by a demon. Naturally, Malcolm had already decided to videotape everything beforehand because, who knows, he might get laid too. Well, dude doesn’t manage to get laid (and of course, she kills his dog immediately), so he decides to solve that problem (the sex one, not the dog one) by trying to get rid of the ghost (I don’t get it either). Enter the obligatory exorcist called Father Williams (Cedric the Entertainer) and a token psychic named Chip (Nick Swardson), who just happens to be homosexual — because this movie already manages to be unfunny and make tons of racial jokes, so we might as well pile on heavy with the gay slurs as well. There are some “ghost hunters” (David Koechner and Dave Sheridan) who show up on the scene to film a shitty television show, and of course, some “Ghostbusters” make improper tribute as well.
A Haunted House comes off as almost exactly the same as its source movies spliced into one 90-minute, goopy mess with absolutely no scares but lots of added drugs, ghost-fucking “jokes,” and wholly gratuitous use of the N-word. Somewhere in the mix, there’s a giant pile of Wayans poop on display as well, but it’s not really important for you to know the specifics on that note. It goes without saying that I may never feel clean again. Somehow (and I didn’t think this was possible), the “Ghostbursters” scene manages to be far worse than anything that’s bobbing around in Dan Aykroyd’s vodka-addled brain at this very moment. That last sentence should tell you everything you need to know when evaluating whether or not to see A Haunted House.
Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at Celebitchy.