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Nick Swardson and Marlon Wayans do what they can, but A Haunted House plays like a grade-Z Scary Movie rip-off....
Universal / 87 Minutes / 2013 / Rated R / Street Date: April 23, 2013
The question with films like A Haunted House isn’t about its success as a satire – it’s more like: Just how bad is it? Every now and then, a good spoof comes around that smartly upends the clichés and archetypes of popular movie genres (Airplane!, of course, being the shining star example), but more often than not, dippy affairs like A Haunted House surround a legitimate laugh or two with groan-inducing narrative numbness.
Yes, A Haunted House recognizes and riffs on movies like Paranormal Activity and The Devil Inside, but even dipshit laughs are few and far between here. Marlon Wayans, Nick Swardson, and David Koechner are all well-known for being able to deliver more than their fair share of comic gold, but even if these three get a handful of opportunities to break through A Haunted House’s inanity, most of the screen time here is all but a complete waste.
The film follows Wayans and Essence Atkins as they enjoy moving into their new home. Of course, Wayans wants to document as much of it as he can, so he goes all Paranormal Activity on it, setting up camcorders all around. Then the ghosties pop up, and security guys like Koechner and psychics like Swardson show up to complicate things with overly expositional material that adds up to nothing.
Will serious horror aficionados giggle during A Haunted House? Unfortunately, yes: as blah as the movie is as a whole, it’s unfortunately savvy enough to conjure up a burp of laughter here and there. But these high water marks make the rest of the picture that much more frustrating. If A Haunted House was merely terrible, it’d be a lot more fun: the fact that its highlights lend it a thin sense of mediocrity make it more disappointingly enraging.