The follow-up to Marlon Wayans and Michael Tiddes’ box-office hit A Haunted House, A Haunted House 2 dips back into the well of horror spoofs on a microscopic budget, but with a blander supporting cast and less originality this time around.
Shot in the found-footage style of Paranormal Activity, the movie mashes together elements from Insidious, Sinister, The Possession, and The Conjuring (among other horror flicks), resulting in a loose narrative that follows Malcolm (Wayans) as he moves into a new house with his girlfriend Megan (Jaime Pressly) and her two children Becky (Ashley Rickards) and Wyatt (Steele Stebbins), with whom he amusingly struggles to bond. It soon becomes apparent that something is frighteningly amiss with the new house, foreshadowed by a precariously hung safe accidentally falling onto—and flattening—Malcolm’s beloved dog. His fears of a demonic presence go ignored, however, and he’s left to solve the mystery himself, although he receives help from a few absurd characters along the way.
Staying true to the theme of mocking existing material, much of the non-spoof humor in A Haunted House 2 feels regurgitated as well. You’ve heard all of its sex and race jokes before, and the shock effect of an animal being slain in unnecessarily brutal fashion depreciates in value faster than a used car—which becomes apparent by the time a chicken is thrown into a spinning ceiling fan, boringly blowing it to bits. There are also only so many times one of Marlon Wayans’ wacky faces can put a smile on yours before you just start hoping it doesn’t freeze that way.
There are a few good laughs sprinkled throughout the movie’s slow 87 minutes, though, with a handful coming from Malcolm’s complicated affair with a possessed doll, a bit that just barely stays funny enough to not overstay its welcome. The ambiguously indecent Father Williams (Cedric the Entertainer, who reprises his role from the first movie) is also good for a chuckle or two, as are the Super-8 films (found in the attic by an Ethan Hawke-esque Malcolm) depicting a blundering killer’s failed attempts to murder the previous owners of the house.
A Haunted House 2 isn’t the worst way to entertain a switched-off brain for an hour and a half, but it’s nothing you haven’t already seen.