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'A Haunted House' will scare you by how bad it is

A Haunted House

Director: Michel Tiddes

Cast: David Koechner, Marlon Wayans, Essence Atkins

Rated: R (crude and sexual content, strong language, some drug use)

Running time: 80 min.


Posted 10:22pm on Friday, Jan. 11, 2013

As Zero Dark Thirty sparks debate over waterboarding, we're left to wonder if there might be some other way to obtain information from enemy non-combatants.

I'd suggest forcing them to watch A Haunted House, the new Marlon Wayans movie and alleged comedy, a parody of the Paranormal Activity franchise. A parody that is, in its own way, more horrifying than the real thing.

House stars Wayans as Malcolm, a single man about to invite his girlfriend (Essence Atkins) to move in with him. For about two minutes, it looks like Wayans might be on to something -- looking for humor in the idea of a significant other invading your house and upending your life like some kind of poltergeist.

Wayans ditches all that for routine Scary Movie lowjinks, and in the process sets a modern non-Sandler record for flatulence jokes. Also offered -- a racist home security salesman (David Koechner), neighbors (Alana Ubach, Andrew Daly) who want to swing, a disgruntled Latina maid and an invisible ghost whose tactics include sexual assault. Nick Swardson plays a gay man with an intense interest in Malcolm.

It is all nearly laugh-free, although Cedric the Entertainer has 30 or 40 funny seconds as a cut-rate exorcist.

Not enough, though, to save A Haunted House from being an early contender for next year's Golden Raspberry.

Could it have a second life as an alternative to water-boarding?

I doubt the Geneva Convention would allow it.

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