“A Haunted House 2” haunts the audience with horrible punchlines

Courtesy of Open Road Films

I have a headache from being hit over the head with blatant punchlines.

“A Haunted House 2” is the sequel to Marlon Wayans’ and Rick Alvarez’s 2013 “comedy” “A Haunted House.” The film picks up after Malcolm (Wayans) leaves his girlfriend for dead and starts a new life with his new girlfriend Megan (Jaime Pressly). As they move into their dream home, Malcolm is once again plagued by bizarre paranormal events. The film mocks the found-footage genre and recent horror films such as “The Conjuring,” “Insidious: Chapter 2” and “The Last Exorcism Part II.” It is your standard parody, meaning that you should be in for slapstick comedy and nothing truly serious — but the only joke, really, is the film itself.

Right off the bat, “A Haunted House 2” lacks subtlety. The film hopes to create comedy by slugging the audience repeatedly with each punchline. Even after the joke has been delivered, it continues on in an almost cringe-worthy fashion. For example, one of the many aspects of horror that the movie tries to make fun of is the tie between horror films and animals. When moving into the new house, the family has a pet, which refuses to enter the house because it’s haunted. Well, the film tries to make it fun by having a random safe drop on Malcolm’s beloved dog. This is followed by almost 10 minutes of Wayans’ character doing crazy things, like trying to inflate the dog with air, and chasing after it once it flies off. The film assumes the audience needs to be thrown the literal meaning behind the joke, but a joke is funny when the audience gets the message behind what you’re trying to say. For most of the “comedy” in this film, the jokes are shoved in the audience’s face as if to say, “This is where you should laugh.”

Part of what makes parodies really good is if the films understand the underlying meaning of the content it is parodying. This is not the case with “A Haunted House 2.” The film tries to make up for its lack of knowledge by implementing what the writers think the audience thinks is funny. This causes the film to be plagued by racial stereotypes, sex and drugs. And these jokes are not creative in the slightest. Whenever Malcolm and Miguel (Gabriel Iglesias) get on screen, all you will hear are race jokes that you have probably overheard a thousand times already.

The only redeeming factor of the film happens to be Wayans’ unrelenting effort to go above and beyond to get the audience to laugh at terrible jokes. The film’s energy is mainly carried out through Wayans, and no one else in the film. Unlike the first film, “A Haunted House 2” does not have the secondary energy of co-star Essence Atkins. And while Pressly’s character is stiff and does not get as down and dirty to add life to such terrible comedy, Wayans puts on his best jester hat and really works with what he has at his disposal, and in some cases, it helps.

Long gone are the days of smart parody movies like “Don’t Be A Menace To South Central While Drinking Your Juice In The Hood,” “Scary Movie” and “Scary Movie 2.” Without the guidance of older brothers Keenan and Shawn, Marlon misses his mark terribly, almost as if he is a yin without a yang. Marlon can deliver a great comedic performance, but as for writing his own content, that’s another story.

Rating: 1 star

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