January 12, 2013 by Vinnie Leduc
With the recent saturation of found footage horror flicks, you knew something like this bound to be made sooner or later. Itself a very low-budget project, A Haunted House primarily spoofs the Paranormal Activity series and recent exorcism films like The Devil Inside. Starring Marlon Wayans and Essence Atkins as a couple that moves in together and then deals with an unwanted supernatural guest, the parody is basically what Scary Movie 5 might have been had the Wayans brothers were still involved in the franchise they co-created and co-starred in… except those first couple of Scary Movies were better than this.
In the beginning, you’ll think, “Sh!t, this is gonna be bad,” as the film seems more grounded and tamer than what you’d expect from a Wayans vehicle at the expense of the trademark ridiculousness. However, it improves overall mostly due to some over-the-top gags that’ll have you rolling with laughter. The great thing about A Haunted House is that in some cases it shows how normal people (i.e., people who aren’t beyond stupidly curious and/or blindly stubborn) would probably react in situations where they’re dealing with a ghost or poltergeist. Like GTFO already! In moments where the characters here do act like the idiots in Paranormal Activity, the satire is hit or miss. One of my favorites has to be a sequence modeled after the oscillating fan camera in the second Paranormal Activity prequel.
Marlon Wayans is typical Marlon Wayans; his performance is loaded with girlish screaming, sexual antics, and Jim Carrey-like facial contortions. Atkins complements him well enough as his onscreen girlfriend, and supporting appearances from comedy vets Nick Swardson, David Koechner, and Cedric the Entertainer breathe some life into the spoof. Just don’t expect anything groundbreaking from the cast.
A Haunted House could easily have been mistaken for just another Scary Movie. Nearly matching the raunchiness of the first pair of Wayans-featuring Scary Movies but more comparable to the last couple in terms of quality, A Haunted House is a tale of two stories. When it’s funny, it’s LOL hilarious. But when it’s not, the jokes drag on for way too long. Rent this House (and stay for the extra scenes during the credits), but don’t commit to owning it. A Haunted House gets 2 out of 5 stars.