A Haunted House Michael Tiddes

A Haunted House Michael Tiddes
3
By no means should this low-brow spoof job be mistaken for a thoughtful comedy, but it must be acknowledged that some thought did go into its making. Routinely dismissed (but still a money maker) for obvious reasons — an extended scene of Marlon Wayans simulating aggressive sex with stuffed animals isn't likely to play too well beyond viewers who just started getting regular erections — this year's substitute for a Wayans-produced Scary Movie at least makes enough effort to be a parody with a point. Written and starring the (arguably) most widely appreciated member of the clan that inherited David Zucker's throne, A Haunted House uses the Paranormal Activity formula to express the anxiety of committing to a live-in relationship. The camera's reason for being is as plausible as most found-footage movies: Malcolm (Wayans) picks up a new video camera to document his girlfriend, Kisha (Essence Atkins), moving in — mostly because he hopes she'll let him keep filming while they get nasty. When the horny young homeowner fails to get any nookie on his first night of domestic bliss, he realizes he'll have to face the horrors of learning to live with another person's quirks. This progresses from the small terror of night farts to a transformation of character that manifests itself as a full-on demonic possession. To pad the story, David Koechner and Dave Sheridan play a couple of reality show dweebs, whose only real function is to troll for cheap humour in the guise of racist idiots; Nick Swardson plays a predatory gay psychic; Cedric the Entertainer shows up as an ex-con priest; and Andrew Daly adds to the awkward as one of the friendly swingers next door. There are a few crass chuckles to be had early on, but once Kisha is possessed by an evil spirit, Essence Atkins battles the malaise of ethnic sex jokes the movie devolves into with a display of acting prowess that far exceeds the call of duty. It's not enough to balance out the lazy gags, like a Mandingo party and the multitude of other inane bits of immature stoner humour, but at least someone made the most of the situation. The special features are barely worth mentioning — a couple of distinctly unfunny behind-the-scenes clips comprised of typical self-serious promo interviews and a bit of candid on-set footage add precisely zero laughs to a movie that could sorely use them. (VVS)