Director: Michael Tiddes
Cast: Marlon Wayans, Essence Atkins, Cedric the Entertainer, Nick Swardson, David Koechner
Running Time: 86 minutes
Release Date: June 19
Those big red letters. First emerging as a bastardisation of the Scream logo on the poster for 2000’s Scary Movie, they haven’t let up since. Slapped on everything from Not Another Teen Movie to Disaster Movie, it’s pretty much a given that if a movie has the word movie in its title, it has to be demarcated in chunky red letters. They’re the calling card for the modern spoof, the filmic equivalent of a cancerous lung on a packet of cigarettes.
A Haunted House is the latest film to sport those big red letters, a Paranormal Activity/found footage spoof from Marlon Wayans and friends. A young couple, Malcolm (Wayans) and Kisha (Atkins), move into a lavish new house together. But when a strange entity begins to make itself known, the pair try everything in their power to exorcise the paranormal presence.
It’s a conceit that practically writes itself because, well, it’s already been written. A Haunted House is a beat for beat take down of the first Paranormal Activity, with a handful of nods to other entries and franchises thrown in.
While most recent output from the emaciated spoof genre has been the spoon feed comedic gruel of pop culture bottom feeders Friedberg and Seltzer (Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans), Wayans’ latest actually proves slightly more substantial. Maybe the entertainment equivalent of an above average prison luncheon? With desert, and real cutlery.
Though the movie feels like 90% bad improv, it does scrounge together the odd solid laugh, and refrains from the same flash-in-the-pan non sequiturs of its contemporaries; at no point do the characters leave their house to see Kanye West’s baby in an Iron Man suit dancing to Gangnam Style in their driveway. It’s a real step in the right direction for big red letter movies.
Of the comedic beats that do land, there’s a few solid sight gags, but they’re mostly the product of the decent supporting cast. Nick Swardson, Cedric The Entertainer and Andrew Daly all bring a goofy watchabiltiy to proceedings, especially towards the end as theyr’e given more screen time together.
By most standard human metrics A Haunted House is kind of miserable. But in the festering crack den of big red letter movies, it’s one resident that festers ever so slightly less.