Sometimes you have experiences that shake the foundation of your beliefs. For the person of faith, it’s that there is no benevolent god, that the world is a floating orb of cruelty and chaos. For the unbeliever, it’s that there is a vengeful deity who is carrying one hell of a grudge. I had one of those moments while watching A Haunted House 2, the latest Marlon Wayans-led spoof in the tradition of Scary Movie. An ugly, hateful film. One of the most unpleasant movie experiences I’ve had in my life.
I hope you can forgive me, but I missed the first A Haunted House film. The sequel picks up after the events of the first film. Malcom (Wayans) is in the backseat with his possessed girlfriend Kisha (Essence Atkins) while his cousin Ray Ray (Affion Crockett) drives and advocates pistol whipping the possessed. The car crashes and the film jumps forward a year. Malcom has just married Megan (Jaime Pressly), and they’re moving into a new house with her two children Becky (Ashley Rickards) and Wyatt (Steele Stebbins). Wyatt has an invisible friend, Tony, that speaks in an urban vernacular and Becky is angst-riddled teen, who we’re repeatedly reminded is a slut and/or whore. After having a prolonged and increasingly explicit sex scene with Megan’s creepy doll named Abigail, the doll begins haunting Malcom with all the fury of scored ex-lover. Soon, Becky is possessed by some demonic force, and Malcom recruits the help of his gardener neighbor, Miguel (Gabriel Iglesias), a gun-toting priest, Father Williams (Cedric the Entertainer), and a husband and wife team of paranormal investigators, Noreen (Missi Pyle) and Ned (Hayes MacArthur).
There aren’t really jokes in A Haunted House 2, more like a collection of random pop culture references, digressions about sex, and Marlon Wayans screaming. As producer, co-writer, and star of this monstrosity, Wayans occupies nearly every second of screen time, which, again, is mostly Marlon Wayans screaming. This film is so inept at comedy that it can’t properly make fun of the found footage angle, a genre that is often bordering on self-parody. But director Michael Tiddes doesn’t try to parody the styles of the source material. This is the type of comedy where mentioning the title of pop culture entity, like when a professor who is cooking meth says, “I have to get my Breaking Bad on.”
Though wholly incompetent in comedy, the film’s dark view of women is most distracting. The women in this film occupy two distinct roles – crazy sex fiend or crazy, wildly emotional nag. One particularly disturbing sequence, for all the wrong reasons, has Becky, the teenage daughter, staring in the mirror, the demonic possession slowly taking hold. She looks down her throat, her step-father behind her, when a penis pops out of her throat. She’s a slut, remember? In case you forgot, there’s a scene where her younger brother reads her diary aloud, for some reason, where she explains her love for performing fellatio. This sequence is watched from a distance by her step-father who has the house rigged with cameras. Throughout the film’s 80-plus minute running time, the film reinforces that women are sluts or nags. Over and over and over. Wayans and company are no better in terms of racial humor. A Haunted House 2 handles its racial and gender issues with the wit of a drunken hobo at a bus stop.
Special features on the blu-ray include deleted and extended scenes, because after watching this one you’re just dying to see what they left out. There’s also an audio commentary with Wayans, co-writer Rick Alvarez, and director Michael Tiddes. Through the audio commentary you can hear such charming anecdotes, like when Marlon Wayans fought off an erection during a sex scene by saying to himself, “Jaime has a dick. Jaime has a dick.” In the commentary they casually tell you which individual film they’re ripping off. With the same casual demeanor, Wayans verbally affirms what the film blatantly suggests – he doesn’t “give a fuck.”
As ugly as its contents are, it’s hard to fault a studio for funding this dreck. It’s a lowbrow, low-budget affair that’ll make a profit with a few half-filled showings in Parma, Ohio. This film is mostly an indictment on the comedic sensibilities of Marlon Wayans, who seems to lazily vent his frustrations by hate-fucking a doll and screaming for 80 minutes. A regressive work with a reductive style, A Haunted House 2 is just another entry in the current era of the laughless, lazy spoof.