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Marlon Wayans and Essence Atkins are the victims of a demon infestation that likes moving pots and pans and ruining their sex life. Is this the intimate study of a couple and the complexities of their failing sexual relationship, with the ghost serving as a metaphor for their once existing affection, written and directed by Woody Allen? God no! A Haunted House is a surprisingly funny parody on the never-ending Paranormal Activity franchise.
Malcolm (Marlon Wayans) has just invited his girlfriend Keisha (Essence Atkins) to come and live with him. He’s a little nervous about the huge change in his life and he decides to document her arrival with a handy cam he’s recently purchased. Of course, he doesn’t just record her arrival [which prove disastrous], he also starts noticing strange happenings in and around his home. This includes things like the movement of pots and pans, and doors closing by themselves. Exactly what could it be? Is it harmful? Is it purely a coincidence that it started when Keisha Hiding moved in?
It should also be known, within this “plot” synopsis, I may have forgotten to mention that jokes about flatulence, sex tapes, animals being run over and sodomy ensue… and that’s only the first half of the film.
Performances from Wayans himself, Essence Atkins, Cedric the Entertainer as a convict priest assigned to perform the exorcism and Nick Swardson as the sleazy psychic who may be even more depraved than the ghost itself are all very funny. Each performer really brings their all. You’ll recognise the joke, as do the actors; but they’re directed by Michael Tiddes as if they were part of a stage show. The audience is acknowledged and things are more exaggerated than they should be. The timing of each joke no matter how stale it is, is immaculate. There’s a narrative and a precision to the film-making here that can’t be ignored.
Marlon Wayans’ films including White Chicks and the first two Scary Movie films aren’t exactly an acquired taste, but these films including A Haunted House have NO shame! None! But the film’s success also lies in the fact that it’s a film, unlike many parody films being released as of late. A Haunted House is coherent and follows some sort of narrative, no matter how thin it may seem. Character consistencies make the jokes all the more effective. They stick to a particular brand of film to parody, as well as appreciate; and it grounds much of the film’s silliness. This is an attribute of the writers and director who never forget a notion that a film must exist within the parodying and low-brow humour.
Is A Haunted House a good film? Not necessarily. Is it a funny one? I believe so, yes. For a film to remind us of the insistence Hollywood has in churning out the same movie every year for a quick buck is something. Unlike Scary Movie 5 which can’t be considered a film for its disregard of a narrative or timing for any joke presented, A Haunted House loves its audience and will do ANYTHING to make you laugh. Like a hooker that accepts I.O.U’s, it’s depraved, desperate and will do just about anything for a buck… You’ll feel dirty and ashamed, but you’ll have enjoyed it at the time.