Marlon Wayans retreads familiar ground with his most recent offering, A Haunted House, a comedy-horror in the diabolical mould of Wayans’ previous Scary Movie outings. Riffing on the Paranormal Activity franchise (themselves a series of diminishing returns) Wayans stubbornly refuses to break from tradition by producing a movie that’s as bereft of wit as anything he’s ever done or likely to to again.
So wantonly dire is the finished article, it’s difficult pinpoint the moment things start to truly go wrong; indeed things never really go right. Young Malcolm (Wayans) cheerfully sets up his camera and tripod to document the arrival of his girlfriend Kisha (Essense Atkins) into her new home (and unknowingly videos the demon that’s also made himself at home) and, after she’s accidentally killed his dog, the whole sorry experience almost immediately descends into a drunken, moronic farce.
Wayans makes clear his intentions early on with a tediously prolonged fart joke; a laboriously delivered prank which turns out to be about the least offensive thing in the whole film. It’s followed, over the course of 86 utterly miserable minutes, by riffs on abortion, child abuse and two, yes two, rape gags.
It’s a found-footage parody that’s groped and milked in the most desperately grubby way in a vain search for anything approaching a smile. So of course the demon likes a toke, as does Malcolm himself, so too the gangsta priest (Cedric the Entertainer) with a crucifix full of coke.
The demon can’t spell when confronted with a ouija board, Malcolm’s friends are swingers with the big man himself in their cross-hairs and the house full of cameras catches him taking a crap on the living room floor.
All this base non-comedy might be forgiveable it it weren’t for the nasty vein of homophobia running throughout, blotting an already soaked copybook. The psychic Malcolm hires is gay, so of course he’s also predatory, and that’s funny too. A Haunted House is a pernicious little iniquity posing as knockabout fun.
It must have taken one hell of an effort for Marlon Wayans to sink lower then Scary Movie, but amazingly he’s managed it with room to spare. Ghastly, crude, with a pea-sized brain; it feels like making your own demonic pact with a belligerent idiot.