“Paranormal Activity” fans will recall that the phenomenon-spawning fright flick opened a little more than three years ago — meaning that the time for parodies was ripest, oh, about two years and 11 months ago. Yet here comes Marlon Wayans’s new spoof, “A Haunted House,” blithely looking to ride the found-footage wave regardless of whether it’s crested. Not that it would necessarily matter, if the comedy were sharp enough — but no such luck. This is just one more “Scary Movie” installment by another title. (“Scary Movie 5,” due this spring, was taken.)
Wayans does pour a lot of energy into the proceedings, joking and swaggering and shrieking as Malcolm, a guy’s guy psyched to begin sharing his luxe home with his girlfriend, Kisha (Essence Atkins). Malcolm can roll with Kisha’s fear that she’s carted along a ghost with all the shoes and bric-a-brac she’s moved into the place. He just installs video cameras everywhere to see what’s going bump in the night — and rumble and whoosh, a la “Paranormal.” Less automatic is how to keep his on-camera revulsion in check when she starts farting up a storm at 2 a.m. Laughing yet? You might chuckle at Wayans huddled in the tub, frantically trying to scrub himself clean of something slightly more earthly-freaky than evil spirits. But watching him get it on with stuffed animals? Ick. (Wasn’t “Ted” enough?)
Malcolm and Kisha aren’t keen on hosting a string of wacky visitors, but you’ll welcome them, since these scenes are the only breaks from the monotony. Andrew Daly stirs some funny interplay as a pervy married friend who keeps engaging them in protest-too-much conversations about swinging, and Nick Swardson does his fey-goofy routine as a psychic getting certain vibrations from Malcolm. It’s utterly foolish, of course, but cleverer than calling your haunted-house comedy, um, “A Haunted House.”
Tom Russo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.