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Movie Review: ‘A Haunted House’

A Haunted House

Starring Marlon Wayans, Essence Atkins, Cedric the Entertainer, Nick Swardson David Koechner and Marlene Forte.
Directed by Michael Tiddes

Rated R



Marlon Wayans scores a hit with this solo effort parody on the horror sub-genre known as found footage.  A Haunted House was the creation of Wayans and longtime collaborator Rick Alvarez, who got together a few years back with the goal to make a movie that makes fun of such films as The Devil Inside, Insidious, and The Last Exorcism in such a way that, if you did take those films serious to begin with, you’ll never do so again.  As a connoisseur of classic horror films and the slashers of the 80s horror renaissance, I’ve never been a big fan of the ultra low budget found footage flicks that have taken over the genre the last few years.  It’s not art and it’s not enjoyable to watch a film that is nothing more than a shaky camera following around dimwits that scream like little girls every five seconds. 

When I first read that one of the creative minds behind White Chicks was going to run roughshod over that subgenre, then I had to take a closer look.  What Marlon and company have done here is give audiences a horror parody that entails more than a single plot line with likeable main characters that provides some actual laugh out loud moments.  Does every line and scene work?  No, and yes, there are a fairly large amount of crude sex, fart, and gross-out jokes, but what recent comedy hasn’t relied on those same staples?  Last year audiences loved Ted and the year before that, Bridesmaids was all the rave that even inspired talk of Oscar glory.  Those same critics will undoubtedly line up to trash this movie for over-reliance on sex jokes while not offering anything they deem as original.  I think this movie is nothing more and nothing less than those except for one thing – perception.  While this might not be the best from the Wayans brand if you like his flavor of knowing how to make fun of other movies, then you’ll enjoy this effort too.

Right from the start Wayans and Alvarez go right after the crux of the Paranormal movie franchise with their classic horror movie suburban setting.  The movie begins with a man named Malcolm (Wayans) who has invited his girlfriend Keisha (Essence Atkins) to move in.  To document the occasion he does what every dopey found footage film must do in that he pulls out a fancy new video camera.  Home movie time y’all!  Of course things start to go wrong the moment she arrives and Malcolm’s dog departs.  After that there are strange noises, not-so-strange smells, things that go bump in the dark and worst of all - Malcolm and Keisha stop having sex. SAY WHAT?   

Their frustrations boil up quickly and after wrestling with blame and the realization that something odd is going on, they try to ignore the “unwanted”, the result being a ghostly temper tantrum.  These result in some of the funnier scenes in this movie as the entity has a fit and trashes parts of the house trying to unnerve Malcolm and Keisha.  Thus begins Malcolm’s quest to vanquish his invisible tormentor.  He uses every politically incorrect joke and trick in the book along the way.  While not all of them come across as funny, or very original, more often than not you find yourself laughing at them.  Wayans was part of the creative group that were responsible for the Scary Movie franchise.  They parted ways with the producers after Scary Movie 2 and you just know Marlon was itching to get back to his roots.  Getting his film into theaters a few months before number 5 comes out in April that will undoubtedly lead to comparisons.


Sex swirls around this film throughout just like it does with almost every horror movie ever made.  We have grown accustomed to equating pre-marital and out-of-wedlock sex with bad things happening to those wicked sinners.  Is that a true state of our society or just the guilty subconscious of writers who deep down still believe they can go blind for having unclean thoughts.   But I digress.  Wayans and Alvarez exploit that aspect of the genre by making their poltergeist a sexually provocative and active entity.  Sexual situations and innuendo also come by way of the couple’s best friends (Alanna Ubach and Andrew Daly) who are closet swingers. 

We are also treated to such comedy genre veterans as; Cedric the Entertainer as a bootleg prison exorcist named Father Williams, Nick Swardson as a way-out-of-the-closet S&M psychic named Chip, David Koechner and Dave Sheridan as a couple of security specialists named Bod and Dan who see an opportunity to exploit Malcolm’s situation by way of turning it into a ghost hunters reality show.  These embody the epitome of the horror movie supporting characters that we’ve come to expect to see in these films time and time again.  Instead of them only appearing for small vignette portions of the film, director Michael Tiddes manages to deftly weave them into the action without missing a beat from the main driving force affecting Malcolm and Keisha.  

A Haunted House hit theaters today so if you like found footage films, if you like comedy and if you like the actors that star in it then you already know you want to see it.  So what are you waiting for?

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