A Haunted House


Director: Michael Tiddes

Starring: Marlon Wayans, Essence Atkins, Cedric the Entertainer, Nick Swardson

Genre: Comedy

Running Time: 86 min

Fri, Jun 21, 2013, 00:00


Everyone is down on the Wayans brothers. Not for the first time, everyone turns out to be a total drag. Few other film partnerships do such a good job of keeping a properly independent spirit buzzing along the busiest lane of the mainstream.

This is not to say their films are always entirely bearable. Few people would want to watch White Girls or Little Man more than once. But the Wayans’ comedies have the same end-of-the pier cheeriness that we’ve now come to savour in the Carry On films.

Continuing their early work in Scary Movie, A Haunted House sets itself up as a parody of the found-footage horror genre. If ever a pastiche were overdue, then this is it. The conventions of that increasing tiresome format – I’ll keep my camera running even though I’m being eaten by a giant lizard – long ago outstayed their welcome and became a significant menace to the blameless movie fan.

A Haunted House takes particular aim at the Paranormal Activity movies. Marlon Wayans and Essence Atkins play an African-American couple who encounter malevolent spirits after moving in together. Unlike the later Scary Movies (with which the Wayanses had no involvement), A Haunted House is a proper movie with a proper plot and proper characters.

Mind you, it’s not a very good plot. They aren’t very well defined characters. But there are enough half-decent routines to justify its presence in commercial cinemas. The running joke that finds a white couple trying to disingenuously manoeuvre the leads into a swinging session is particularly, well, endurable.

Heck, worse films starring Robert De Niro have been released this year. As a half-hearted recommendation, that will have to do.