A Haunted House
Directed by Michael Tiddes. Starring Marlon Wayans, Marlene Forte, Essence Atkins, David Koechner, Dave Sheridan, Nick Swardson, Alanna Ubach, Cedric the Entertainer. (2013, R, 86 min.)
REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., Jan. 18, 2013
Actors, at the behest of writers, directors, producers, and agents, have had to suffer all sorts of indignities onscreen. The actor-turned-writer, however, gets to wrestle back some measure of control, which is why it boggles the mind that A Haunted House star and co-writer Marlon Wayans is at least 50% responsible for a scene that requires him to take a dump on the living room floor. And here’s the real rub: By the end of this witless Paranormal Activity spoof, you’ll think the soiled carpet got off easy.
Some of the Scary Movie series’ architects reassemble here for a joylessly raunchy comedy about a ghost causing trouble for couple Malcolm (Wayans) and Kisha (Atkins). Ghost Hunters and The Exorcist are some of the eye-rolling springboards for parody, while Wayans and co-writer Rick Alvarez flog gross stereotypes about gender and race (Mandingo parties are a recurring theme) to zero comedic effect. In his first feature, director Michael Tiddes mimics the increasingly fruitless found-footage trend, and it’s a disastrous move, this documentary aesthetic: By eliminating the winking, broad strokes of the filmmakers’ more successful spoofs, they’ve made a film that is not only dumb, but dull. It’s like watching a snuff film, only it’s the audience who’s dying inside.