Marlon Wayans wrings every last down-and-dirty giggle out of a single joke in “A Haunted House,” his return to “Scary Movie” territory, in truth if not by contract.
He’s no longer involved in that series, so he limited himself to making fun not of every modern “scary” movie, but just the “Paranormal Activity” series. And for 85 rude and raunchy minutes, he does his best to drive a comical stake through the heart of horror’s hottest franchise and the “found footage” genre.
It’s a “what if ghosts visited a randy black couple in the suburbs” take on “Paranormal,” covering much of the same territory as the movies that inspired it — consulting a Ouija board and a gay psychic, wiring the tract house with cameras to catch images of the things that go bump in the night, and the couple (Wayans and Essence Atkins) who go bump in the bedroom.
‘A Haunted House’
DIRECTED BY: Mike Tiddes
STARRING: Marlon Wayans, Essence Atkins, David Koechner, Nick Swardson, Affion Crocker and Cedric the Entertainer
RUNNING TIME: 85 minutes
Not much help
And the “flava”? That’s when Malcolm (Wayans) calls in his thug cousin & co. to deal with the “demon” that moved in at the same time Kisha (Atkins) did.
Naturally, the thug’s name is “Ray-Ray” (Affion Crockett, funny). Naturally, he’s overmatched.
“Cuz, where’s your FURNITURE?“ Ray-Ray wants to know, before it all tumbles from the ceiling on him and his homies. Yeah, you saw that in the TV commercials and trailers.
Cedric the Entertainer is a foul-mouthed priest who figures it would be easier to find a new girlfriend than to exorcise Kisha. Nick Swardson has “psychic powers, all over my body,” and is more interested in Malcolm’s body than chasing demons.
Wayans probably hasn’t matured beyond snickering every time he said director Michael Tiddes’ name aloud on the set. He’s aged out of his manic years, but he hurls himself at the nudity, the simulated sex and what not. The night Kisha moves in, Malcolm vigorously practices, on camera, every sexual thing he wants to do with her with his collection of teddy bears. Taking flatulence gags to new levels and euphemisms for both characters being sexually violated by the ghost — “Touched by an Angel” and “Altar Boyed” — have an amusing shock value. The ghost’s inability to spell “Ghost” on the Ouija Board prompts a run of dyslexia riffs.
The funniest bit is Kisha’s all-night sleepwalking dance routine. The rest of “A Haunted House“ you’ve pretty much seen if you watched the TV ads.