Ah, the parody film. It is not for everyone. I had never seen one prior to my screening for A Haunted House, other than the trailers which do get a couple of laughs. I think there is a certain audience that really enjoys these types of films. It is like a really long Saturday Night Live sketch.
A Haunted House is mostly a parody of the Paranormal Activity films, but also contains references to The Devil Inside and The Last Exorcism. It is shot in a low-budget style, using hand-held cameras and security camera footage.
A Haunted House revolves around a couple, Malcolm (Marlon Wayans) and Kisha (Essence Atkins). Kisha is moving into Malcolm’s home. As soon as Kisha shows up in the driveway at the house, bad things start happening to Malcolm and Kisha. Not everything bad that happens to them has to do with ghosts and demons. Along the way, they hire a couple of guys to install security cameras (David Koechner and Dave Sheridan), a psychic (Nick Swardson), and a priest (Cedric the Entertainer) to help with the situation. Neighbors Steve (Andrew Daly) and Jenny (Alana Ubach), who are keen on being swingers with Malcolm and Kisha, pop in the film occasionally.
This is not an unfunny film. I found myself laughing through the first third, maybe even the first half. There are incredibly stupid, over-the-top jokes that just had me rolling my eyes. I think within the first ten, fifteen minutes you will encounter one of those. Some of the jokes are good. I will not deny that.
It is just the fact that the film and the story go on for too long. It descends into a sort of madness, taking things too far. The last twenty or thirty minutes are a chore to get through. There are also some very crass scenes that are cringe worthy and are not funny. I won’t spoil anything and give out any details for those who want to see the film. If I had seen the other parody films that Wayans has done, maybe I would have a better feel for if this is the same type of humor that is in his other parodies, or if this is something unique to A Haunted House.
I will say that the effects and camera work are well done enough that it does look like a Paranormal Activity film. While the film was done with a low budget just like the Paranormal Activity films, this is not some cheap, stupid rip off in terms of quality.
There is a certain audience who enjoys parodies, and this film was made for them. If parody films never made any money, there would not be A Haunted House. I have a feeling that the target audience will like it. This film does get some laughs, and I think every reviewer in my screening laughed during the first hour of the film. But is this a good film? Not really. It is what it is and I think it is what Marlon Wayans set out for it to be. See it for a few laughs, but not much else.
I give A Haunted House 2 “Fatburgers” out of 5.
by Sarah Ksiazek