Published Apr 17, 2014As long as there are films still being made that aim to terrify, you can be sure that there will be a Wayans out there desperately waiting to spoof them. It's been fourteen years now since the first Scary Movie was released, and here is Marlon Wayans returning for A Haunted House 2, the second instalment in his second horror parody franchise. The formula hasn't changed much over the years, as this is another series of puerile skits crammed with a relentless array of unseemly gags that are willing to go anywhere for a laugh but score a disappointing ratio of hits to misses in the process.
After unceremoniously ditching his possessed girlfriend (Essence Atkins) from the first film in an opening scene, Malcolm (Wayans) finds himself a year later ready to move into another creepy house with a new girlfriend, Megan (Jaime Pressly) and her two children. The son, Wyatt (Steele Stebbins), has a not-so-imaginary friend named Tony who corrupts with filthy language and drinks straight vodka at tea time while Wyatt's teenage sister, Becky (Ashley Rickards), has become obsessed with a dybbuk box. Besides sending up The Possession, this also presents many opportunities to wring as much humour out of the word "box" as you would expect from a movie like this.
Where the first film stuck pretty closely to the plot of the Paranormal Activity films, this one borrows the same found footage format but casts a wider net to parody a hodgepodge of recent scary movies, with prominent nods to Sinister and The Conjuring. If you thought there was absolutely no way they could possibly sink below the moment from the first film where Malcolm was anally raped by a ghost, just wait until you see how Malcolm defiles a creepy doll in an extended sex scene.
Wayans is at his most antic and obnoxious here as a performer, flailing and mugging with a fearlessness that yields embarrassment more often than amusement. He's such an irrepressible presence that there's barely any room for anyone else in the movie, with Pressly mostly relegated to finding Wayans in compromising situations and comedian Gabriel Iglesias popping up occasionally as a neighbour saddled with hammering home the same tired joke about ethnic stereotypes over and over again. It's a relief when Cedric the Entertainer eventually appears to reprise his role as a deviant priest.
There's always reason to be wary of a comedy that insists on firing this many jokes at the wall with the hope that at least a few of them stick. Amongst all of the ones that skewer the spooky source material, there are also jokes about bodily fluids, animal mutilation, sodomy and pedophilia. The barrage of bad taste strewn over an hour and a half eventually reaches a saturation point at which you want to capitulate not because you're offended, but because the endless stream of tepid comedy has simply become so tiresome that it's finally beaten you into submission.