January is a unique time for films. Smack dab in between big budget films released for the holidays and action films released in February (no seriously, is that for hetero men sick of Valentine’s Day stuff?). So January ends up being the island of misfit films. This is often the time the film industry will stick films that wouldn’t normally make a great deal of money. People will go to the movies regardless and will just end up picking movies they would never have seen if they had been released in the spring. And that’s exactly how the author of this article happened upon A Haunted House. Because horror is good. And comedy is good. Together? Priceless. ***Spoilers ahead.***
When the author of this article first saw the trailer for A Haunted House it looked a little like a parody of the haunted house genre of horror film. But that’s not really what the movie ended up being. A Haunted House is poking fun at one film series in particular: Paranormal Activity. We start with a couple happily moving in together (ok, there are some slight hitches in the plan). And that’s when things start getting weird. Kisha (Essence Atkins) is convinced there is a ghost in the house and Malcolm (Marlon Wayans) is convinced that Kisha is crazy. When he finally admits that there are weird things going on they set up cameras and investigate. Of course their efforts to investigate only antagonize the ghost. Eventually it comes out that the ghost is after Kisha because she made a deal with The Devil for some shoes (they make her calves pop!). Ghostly hijinks follow and eventually Kisha is possessed by the demon/ghost. Their attempts to rid Kisha of her demon are unsuccessful.
But A Haunted House isn’t a serious film. A Haunted House makes us laugh at Haunted House movies. It really picks the genre apart. And it also surprisingly has some scenes that make you jump (seriously, Rosa, stop jumping in front of the camera). One of the silliest things in the Paranormal Activity film is the question; why don’t you just LEAVE? And why are you dropping powder everywhere? And isn’t it fun getting dragged backwards by a ghost? And that is answered in A Haunted House (duh, because she made a deal with the devil for designer clothes). A Haunted House also does an amazing job of making fun of the “lost footage” genre. Especially when the security guy assumes they are filming a porno in the house because they have all the cameras set up. The cameras manage to catch way more than just ghosts though (seriously, Rosa. WTF). The only thing missing was a shaky camera homage to Blair Witch Project (although you can catch one of the “Blair Witch” symbols on the wall).
But is it any good? Well, Rotten Tomatoes has it at a solid 9% (meaning pretty rotten). But 87% of the audience reports enjoying it. In fact, when the author went to see it the first time it was sold out. So. What is with that? It tells us this isn’t a movie that critics particularly like. And we get it. There are a ton of fart jokes, Gay sex jokes (that actually don’t really work…) and a scene involving Marlon Wayans getting intimate with a trio of stuffed animals. So we don’t expect it will be nominated for the 2013 Academy Awards. But we don’t think A Haunted House was made for critics. A Haunted House is a film for people who wanted to laugh at “low-brow” humor. And it totally works. There were times when the whole audience was cracking up. And if they were aiming to make a movie with a lot of laughs, a few jumps and some potty humor they completely succeeded. As long as you’re not a movie snob, you’ll probably get a kick out of A Haunted House.
The sex jokes in A Haunted House are very funny, especially the desperate swingers who want to have a Mandingo party. But the Gay jokes don’t really work. There is a right and a wrong way to tease The Gays. And they don’t do it well. The jokes end up coming off as weird and homophobic. They’re unnecessary filler in an otherwise very funny movie. And don’t get us wrong. Sex jokes are pervasive in this film and most are done very well. And they make fun of white people a whole lot. And it’s hilarious. But the Gay jokes? Out of place and not funny. That was really the only critique we had.
One of the funniest scenes in A Haunted House involved the couple getting high with the evil ghost/demon in the house. They then take turns getting being out of the room backwards by the ghost (and having a ton of fun doing it). The ghost then engages in some epic shotgunning. Isn’t this everything people would want to do with the ghost haunting their house? And this ghost isn’t terribly bright. In fact, it manages to misspell the word ghost (gost) when they attempt to contact it through a ouji board and gets a thorough mocking.
Everyone in A Haunted House was very funny. Marlon Wayans and Essence Atkins have a great chemistry together. They pull off a newly moved in couple very well. And for anyone who has moved in with a significant other, you can completely relate to their frustrations with one another. But the man who really stole this film was Cedric the Entertainer. His turn as Father Williams was amazing. He probably got some of the biggest laughs in the theater. We aren’t surprised but we are delighted. And as “low-brow” as the humor is (we say that in quotes because who the hell are we to judge?) it really does work. All of our inner five year olds love fart jokes and all of our inner fifteen year olds love dirty jokes. And if you don’t necessarily like those jokes, don’t see A Haunted House. But if you are ok with letting yourself laugh then by all means, get to the theater.
Den of Geek Rating: 3 Out of 5 Stars