A Haunted House (2013)

It’s almost as if Marlon Wayans, the least funny Wayans brother (which isn’t saying much) decided he wanted to get out of the shadow of his big brothers and siblings, and just made his own comedy movie. Since the “Scary Movie” brand is now someone else’s property (since that series is so genius), we now have “A Haunted House” a movie so bereft or wit or actual comedy, that it’s embarrassing. But Wayans himself seems intent on going his own way and forming his own comedy niche. And he fails. Wayans only really works well under the guidance of someone who knows what they’re doing. Or (in the case of the “Scary Movies”) have some idea of what they want to accomplish in the arena of comedy.

Wayans himself seems to just want to have his own vehicle to put on a show for himself, and “A Haunted House” pulls that off for better or for worse. Within the first three minutes, Wayans shoots a barrage of sex jokes to his audience, and he and his girlfriend do nothing but scream in response to painfully awful gags. As I’ve said before: Screaming bad comedy is still delivering bad comedy. But Wayans is under the idea if he screams as loudly as possible, audiences won’t notice he has zero comic timing or talent. Within the first five minutes, there’s even animal cruelty humor with character Malcolm’s dog being run over by a car, and Malcolm overreacting. That’s funny because it’s a dog, I’m assuming. The movie then continues on its stream of obvious gags mocking “Paranormal Activity,” neither of which are remotely funny.

The overnight camera relies on an overlong fart joke, while Wayans writes in a gag involving the oscillating fan and mounted camera focusing in on what the maid does when her bosses are out. Meanwhile Wayans has an odd idea of double standards, where he and his wife knock the Mexican maid incessantly, throwing racial slurs her way, and mocking her heritage. Then we’re introduced to David Koechner who plays a racist security repairman who is always on the verge of racially insulting Malcolm and his wife, to which Malcolm physically threatens him if he dares complete any of his racist joke and assumptions. It’s not only never funny, but incredibly hypocritical.

Wayans can’t even get his borrowed jokes correctly, as when he and his wife experience a haunting, he moves out in only a few hours proclaiming “Bitch! There is a ghost in the house! I’m out!” I wish that painfully derivative joke from Eddie Murphy were the end of the movie, but “A Haunted House” seems to think it can drudge up enough jokes for ninety minutes. To sum up the unfunny package, Malcolm is hit on by his demonologist played by the painfully unfunny Nick Swarsdon (he’s gay so of course he’s sexually perverted and always on the verge of raping Malcolm), he gets anally raped by a ghost, in fact there’s just an odd recurrence of homophobic humor in the entire movie that compensates for lack of actual humor. Wayans seems to run out of material before the first half hour, and drags it on enough to warrant a theatrical release. Easily one of the worst films of 2013, “A Haunted House” mines old comedy and offers nothing remotely funny as a spoof.


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