Sunday, 9 February 2014



To my left I have a letter from the DVLA telling me that my car tax is due, and to my right is a DVD of the latest Marlon Wayans spoof comedy. Which do you think is the cleverer, wittier, and more spiritually uplifting? Okay, that's probably on the lame side. But if you're wanting quality crafted jokes and slick one-liners, you've come to just as wrong a place with me as with Marlon's desperately depressing haemorrhoid of an apology for an excuse of a so-called film. The only differences are that [1] I wasn't paid thousands of dollars for quality crafted jokes and slick one-liners, and [2] I'm not exhibiting all the symptoms of blunt force trauma to the skull.

A Haunted House is unspeakable garbage: a miserable, genuinely painful turd of a comedy with absolutely nothing - not a line, not a shot, not a single damned frame - with the faintest squeak of merit whatsoever. Ostensibly it's a spoof of the ongoing Paranormal Activity series in the found footage manner: Malcolm's (Wayans) girlfriend Keisha (Essence Atkins) moves in with him and immediately the house is beset with demonic forces. One by one psychics, priests, paranormal investigators (with their own reality shows) are called in, with hilarious results....

Let's ignore the fact that the plot makes no sense, because like all these spoofs the plot itself isn't important: it's just there to hang the gags on. Let's ignore the fact that the found footage thing doesn't work any more than it does in straight movies, and is riddled with obvious inconsistencies. But please, please, let's not ignore the fact that half the jokes revolve around poo and farting and would be thought monumentally puerile by a toddler, while the other half are sex jokes that mostly revolve around predatory gays. There's a long scene of the remarkably charmless Wayans humping a succession of soft toys, repeated references to interracial group sex, and it's more than a little embarrassing when the grinding childishness and suffocating boredom isn't alleviated for a solitary second by anything in the same postcode as a smile.

What's particularly depressing isn't that this joyless abyss of misery and tedium cost two million dollars (even though it obviously looks like it cost a hundredth of that), nor is it that it made forty million back in the USA alone, which on a simple numbers basis is a two thousand per cent profit. And that's not counting theatrical releases in more than a dozen other territories from Chile to Singapore (and, shame on us, the UK) and the global DVD revenue. No, what's making me smack my head against the wall is the news that A Haunted House 2 is already in post-production. People have been carted off to The Hague for a lot less.

Okay, okay, it's obvious that Wayans is the smart one for turning such a vast profit out of such paltry fare, and I'm the dumbass for adding the damned thing to my queue in the first place. I don't get comedy, I loathe found footage and I've always thought Marlon Wayans was an arse, so renting a found footage comedy by Marlon Wayans is like eating a handful of broken glass then complaining that my gums are bleeding. Fair enough, point taken. But Marlon Wayans is still an arse and A Haunted House is pretty much as shit as film can get without actually being scat porn. Only not as funny.


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