A HAUNTED HOUSE 2 (2014)
Starring Marlon Wayans, Jaime Pressly, Essence Atkins, Gabriel Iglesias, Ashley Rickards, Affion Crockett, Steele Stebbins, Rick Overton, Missi Pyle, Hayes MacArthur, Dave Sheridan, Cedric the Entertainer, Kurt Carley, Tom Virtue, Kym Whitley and Gregg Wayans.
Screenplay by Marlon Wayans and Rick Alvarez.
Directed by Michael Tiddes.
Distributed by Universal Pictures. 87 minutes. Rated R.
The state of the parody film is in distress – to be charitable – at this point in history. Parody has a long, distinguished history – everything from Mark Twain to MAD magazine to Airplane! – but now it seems to be stuck in a pretty undistinguished rut.
It’s amazing how many modern films were directly influenced by Airplane! that do not get what made that movie work at all. The modern post-Wayans parody is simple. Take a few popular movies from a similar genre, slice and dice unconnected scenes from those films, usually gently (or obviously) mocked, and have a loud-mouthed comedian tell bad jokes over them. Add a heaping helping of bad taste, mix and serve.
The Wayans family has become sort of the go-to clan for the style. Oldest Wayan Keenan Ivory Wayans took the first try with the surprisingly good 1988 blaxploitation satire I’m Gonna Git Ya Sucka. Quickly his brothers Damon, Shawn and Marlon entered the family “business” and started their own parody factory, each one less funny than the previous.
Marlon had a small role in I’m Gonna Git Ya Sucka, but his real coming out party was the awkwardly titled and poorly scripted Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood. That film became a surprise hit, and Marlon hasn’t looked back, helming Scary Movie 1 & 2, Dance Flick and White Chicks. Shockingly, though, he proved himself to be a very decent actor in such high-prestige films as Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream and The Coen Brothers’ The Ladykillers. Still, he never lost his love for dumb comedy, also playing in Eddie Murphy’s Norbit.
Naturally, he eventually went back to his horror parody roots with 2013’s A Haunted House. It was a minor hit, but big enough to get this sequel into the multiplexes a mere year later.
You just have to look at the video box cover to get an idea of the level of humor here. The catch phrase for the film is “It’ll scare the #2 out of you.” If you find that funny, then buckle in, you’ll enjoy A Haunted House 2. If you think it’s kind of stupid, well, yeah, that’s pretty much what you’re gonna think straight through.
A Haunted House 2 mostly takes on the Paranormal Activity films and The Conjuring, though other things like Insidious, Sinister, The Possession, Breaking Bad, The Shining and even A Fish Called Wanda are touched on. Ideas are stolen from these films left and right, with crass and mostly unfunny jokes
Sadly Wayans, both as a star and as a co-writer, has never learned the difference between being funny and being shocking.
There are pro-drug jokes (everybody loves Molly) and even a scene where a priest riffs on abusing altar boys. There are multiple scenes in which animals are abused and killed, and a whole other subplot about an adult man regularly raping a porcelain doll.
Occasionally even Wayans and his co-horts stumble over a genuine chuckle – most of these compliments of Dave Sheridan as a shrowded demon who appears on a series of old “home movies” who is completely inept in his devilish mayhem.
Still, these occasional laughs are not worth sitting through all the complete awfulness of most of this film. Ironically, the scariest thing about A Haunted House 2 is its complete ineptitude and lack of humor. A third grade class could put together a better parody than this film.