Considering Marlon Wayans’ crummy track record (Dance Flick, Little Man, White Chicks), it’s amazing how laugh-out-loud funny A Haunted House turns out to be. This found-footage spoof impresses right out of the gate, because in the first five minutes one sacred movie taboo is thrown out the window and pummeled to absolutely absurd lengths. It’s actually a great way to start this fun ride, in which stretched-out gags rule the school. Wayans is aided by his co-star Essence Atkins, whose role is filled not only with genre cliches, but ample room for wild comedic riffing -- a technique widely used by the talented supporting cast, including Cedric the Entertainer, David Koechner, Nick Swardson, and J.B. Smoove.
House takes its direct cues from the Paranormal Activity series, in which a couple are haunted by an unseen ghost. Here, the action focuses on a young woman (Atkins) as she moves into the home of her boyfriend Malcolm (Wayans). Things start getting weird as the two begin to experience the trials of living together, while at the same time dealing with some seemingly supernatural weirdness that occurs each night as they sleep. Thankfully, with the help of a quirky security-camera installer (Koechner) and his half-wit brother, Malcolm rigs the house with recording devices so he can keep track of everything that happens. Also along for the ride is a very hands-on psychic named Chip (Swardson), a swinger couple (Alanna Ubach and Eastbound & Down’s Andrew Daly), and a priest who preaches the gospel of the herb (Cedric).
A Haunted House really works because it’s unafraid to get utterly ludicrous in its laughs. Every other scene pushes past the boundaries of a one-punch-line joke and offers up a bevy of gags that are more bonkers than the last. The film certainly benefits each time an outrageous co-star makes their way into the picture, yet it’s Wayans and Atkins who really hold it all together, going to unexpected places repeatedly. While not every idea sticks to the wall, enough do -- over and over again. There’s no way that this kind of broad comedy is for everybody, but for those whom it does connect with, A Haunted House will be a new go-to flick to put on when you’re looking to ease into a truly silly state of mind. leave a comment --Jeremy Wheeler