Judge Patrick Naugle is convinced the art of comedy is dead.
This @*%$ ain't paranormal!
Malcolm (Marlon Wayans, Scary Movie) is a single guy with a cool house and an easy life. When his girlfriend, Kisha (Essence Atkins, Are We There Yet?), moves in with him, things start to go…wrong. Very wrong. Malcolm and Kisha set up a video camera to see what's going on and find that their house has been invaded by poltergeists. With the help of a bizarre psychic (Nick Swardson, Click), a Catholic priest (Cedric the Entertainer, Barbershop), and a housekeeper (Marlene Fort, Real Women Have Curves) who loves to pop up unannounced, Malcolm plans on getting to the bottom of what's going on with his haunted house!
Last week I went to see the newly released Scary Movie V (I had a free ticket, sue me), a parody of just about every horror film released in the last few years. I walked out of that movie not disappointed but angry. I was angry that some studio exec thought it was in any condition to be released to the public. I was angry there wasn't a single moment that made me laugh. And I was angry that one of the writers was David Zucker, the genius co-creator of The Naked Gun and Airplane!, two of the funniest parodies ever made. Scary Movie V is an infuriating and abysmal experience, one the worst times I've had at the movies in quite some time.
And then I sat through A Haunted House (Blu-ray).
To give you an idea of the level (or sub-level) of comedy we're dealing with, less than ten minutes in we are forced to watch star Marlon Wayans (who also co-wrote the script) pretend to have sex with a stuffed animal for what seems like an eternity. What should have clearly been a throwaway joke—one that wasn't funny to begin with—suddenly ends up a runaway train as Wayans flips into different positions with a child's toy, simulating all kinds of gross sex acts. Why is this funny? There isn't any real context except his wife was in the bathroom and he was horny. Ha-ha? It's easily one of the least amusing movie moments in years, and that includes anything found in Date Movie, Superhero Movie, and Not Another Teen Movie.
The rest of A Haunted House is no better, filled with cheap fart jokes, tasteless gay jokes, ugly jokes about people saying the "N" word, herpes jokes, and my all-time favorite comedy genre, child abuse jokes (always a winner). I'm of the opinion that, in the right hands, just about anything can be funny. Director Michael Tiddes is not the right hands. In fact, No one involved in the creation of A Haunted House is the right hands. This is Tiddes' first film, and if I had anything to say about it, it would also be his last.
There is no subtlety or pacing here. The story isn't substantial enough to tell at a party, much less build a full length film around. Nothing is invested in the characters or story; the filmmakers just assume that if a character yells out, "Yeah sucker! I hit you in yo' ghost balls!", that's innately funny. Message to the filmmakers (said with all the weight of the world on my shoulders): It's not. It's really, really not.
Cedric the Entertainer plays a priest who talks like he's from the ghetto. Nick Swardson plays a psychic who speaks with a wispy lisp and takes his clothes off at any given moment. David Koechner is…who cares? Who freaking cares?! Does it matter if one of the characters is a clown, or a dishwasher repairman, or even the Lord thy God? NO ONE IN THIS FILM IS FUNNY. This is as entertaining as watching someone walk into a living room and take a dump right on the carpet. Oh wait, I forgot. That joke is also used here.
Presented in 1.85:1/1080p widescreen, the transfer is good if not great. The film is supposed to be seen through the eye of a video camera, so in that vein it's not a fantastic looking image. Colors are generally bright and black levels mostly solid. Considering how terrible the film is, you should be happy it wasn't printed on cow manure. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track offers a fair amount of directional effects, though a lot of it is front heavy with characters talking to the camera. It's a passable and appropriate mix, but nothing spectacular. The only bonus features are a brief behind-the-scenes featurette ("How to Survive a Paranormal Presence"), a standard DVD copy, and digital copies of the film.
There's a thin line between stupid and funny. Wherever that line is, this film passed it long ago. Watching A Haunted House is like witnessing a fish flounder around on the floor, gasping for air as it experiences a sad embarrassing death. The end result is one long depressing memory and a rotting fish.
I take my leave of you by honoring the late Roger Ebert who concluded his own review saying, "I hated, hated, hated, hated this movie."
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