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As DVD Talk's resident expert on the Marlon Wayans-starring A Haunted House franchise, it was on bated breath that I awaited the arrival of the second film, A Haunted House 2. I considered having the body of this review consist of only two words - Skip It - but that kind of sass does not fly around here. Only fifteen months separate the theatrical releases of these films, but calling this sequel a quick cash-in implies its predecessor has some merit. It does not, and neither does A Haunted House 2. Humor is subjective, everyone knows that. This is something else entirely: an unfocused mash-up of lazily scripted scenes that don't even bother trying to parody the films they reference. This is neither Scary Movie revisionist humor nor Kentucky Fried Movie sketch comedy. A Haunted House 2 expects the audience to laugh at shards of parody and props from last year's horror films. Wayans seems like a likeable guy. I hope he paid off his mortgage with his salary.
After losing wife Kisha (Essence Atkins) to demonic possession, Malcolm Johnson (Wayans) shacks up with single mother Megan (Jaime Pressly) and her two children. Megan is white, so there is plenty of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner "humor." Then there is Malcolm's neighbor, Miguel (Gabriel Iglesias), who is a walking Mexican stereotype. None of this is funny. Kisha returns to haunt Malcolm, who goes through the motions to rid his home of evil and return to his normal life. Cedric the Entertainer returns as Father Doug Williams, and Affion Crockett is again terrible as Malcolm's gangster cousin Ray-Ray.
What types of jokes await lucky viewers? Well, Annabelle, the creepy doll from The Conjuring, shows up so Malcolm can perform unspeakable simulated sex acts on her. The film attempts to parody the effective Sinister by having Malcolm wade through home surveillance footage of his family. He sees Megan's young son Wyatt (Steele Stebbins) farting on sleeping sister Becky (Ashley Rickards) and dancing around in a fairy costume. You probably do not remember the scene in The Possession when a ghostly hand appears in the back of a character's throat because that movie is bad. There is a running joke in A Haunted House 2 that Becky is promiscuous, so the film recreates that scene by having a penis appear inside her throat. Classy!
Tedious does not begin to describe how awful this movie is. Wayans is so much better than this material. The actor again proves willing to do just about anything for a laugh. It is too bad this "anything" is not funny. There is plenty of sexist, racist and mean-spirit humor to boot. This movie is basically a too-long reel of middle-school playground humor. There is nothing clever about any of this. The first film provides a few chuckles, but A Haunted House 2 has exactly one funny joke: Malcolm muses about making another Scary Movie without the Wayans brothers. At least that is moderately topical.
The 1.85:1/1080p/AVC-encoded transfer is expectedly strong for this recent release. The film's low-budget roots show through clearly, but fine-object detail and texture are good. Black levels are strong, colors are nicely saturated, and I noticed no edge halos.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack has some nice surround action thanks to a number of exaggerated action effects. The dialogue is awful but perfectly clear and balanced appropriately with effects and the popular-music soundtrack. English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles are included.
PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:
This two-disc "combo pack" includes the Blu-ray, a DVD copy, and both iTunes and UltraViolet HD digital copies. Extras include a Commentary by Actor/Co-Writer/Producer Marlon Wayans, Director Michael Tiddes and Co-Writer/Producer Rick Alvarez that I could not bear to listen to, as well as some Deleted and Extended Scenes (17:54/HD).
Here is what you need to do with A Haunted House 2: Skip It.
William lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.