January 27, 2013

A Haunted House (2013)

"Malcolm and Kisha move into their dream home, but soon learn a demon also resides there. When Kisha becomes possessed, Malcolm - determined to keep his sex life on track - turns to a priest, a psychic, and a team of ghost-busters for help."

Apart from Marlon Wayans, I've never heard of anybody in "A Haunted House". Actually, that's not entirely true. I also recognised David Koechner but couldn't place or name him until I looked him up on the IMDb. For those of you who also wonder, he was in "Final Destination 5" and "Snakes on a Plane' (which, ironically, is referred to later on).

Not knowing the cast of a theatrical movie is sometimes not a bad thing depending on the subject matter. As long as it's a real movie, you can assume that the actors have been in TV shows or other movies rather than being complete unknowns who don't know what they are doing. If this had been a straight-to-DVD movie, different rules would apply. When you haven't heard of anybody in a backyard "indie horror", for instance, it's definitely a huge warning sign that it will be a bad one.

Having said that, I wasn't expecting a lot from "A Haunted House" either. I hate horror-comedies with a passion, and I've never found any parodies which hit their targets successfully apart from the first "Airplane". I always give every movie a chance to entertain me (otherwise I wouldn't watch them), but I knew the chances would be very slim that I would get anything out of this one.

With great trepidation, I ventured into the uncharted territory of "A Haunted House", and it soon became obvious that all my suspicions were correct. While the parodies of the first three "Paranormal Activity" movies, "The Entity" and "The Exorcist" are almost perfect, none of them are funny.

Maybe it's because the "black American culture" references which are uncomfortably forced in are clich├ęd and outdated, or maybe it's just because the comic timing and delivery is off, but apart from the dog getting killed at the beginning (and its drawn out aftermath), I didn't crack a smile at anything else once. Dogs disgust me so put it down (no pun intended) to my own callousness that made me grin.

I liked how the various effects were copied so well from the parodied movies. I also recognised every scene including the quick nods to "Insidious", "The Blair Witch Project" and "[REC]". The thing is, I didn't think they were amusing even with all the sex jokes and toilet humour thrown on top of them. I'm no prude, it's just that such humour is feeble and too puerile in ways that only a tame American movie can truly make a mess of them. Ouside of stand-up comedians, American comedy doesn't travel well anyway.

The bottom line is "A Haunted House" looks the part, Essence Atkins is very talented as Kisha (especially when acting possessed), but the "comedy" is a waste of 80 minutes which you'll never get back.

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