Blu-ray Review: A Haunted House 2

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In 2013, co-writers Marlon Wayans and Rick Alvarez, along with director Michael Tiddes, scored a sleeper hit with the low-budget found-footage horror spoof A Haunted House. Not much more than a year later, the same team returned with the inevitable sequel. Lightning didn't strike twice as A Haunted House 2 only managed to scare up about $24 million worldwide, less than half of the first film's gross. Neither one was well received by critics, but for my money the original was a consistently amusing—occasionally hilarious—throwaway. Part two, arriving on Blu-ray August 12, is only intermittently amusing and very rarely laugh-out-loud funny.

A Haunted House 2 continues to take its cues from the Paranormal Activity series, adding films like Sinister and The Conjuring to the mix. Malcolm (Marlon Wayans) is back with a new family following the possession of his former flame, Kisha (Essence Atkins), in the previous installment. His live-in girlfriend Megan (Jaime Pressly) has two kids: teenaged Becky (Ashley Rickards) and preteen Wyatt (Steele Stebbins). Upon moving into their new house (making sure, of course, to outfit every nook and cranny with surveillance cameras), Malcolm realizes he's being haunted once again.

Haunted House 2 feat (380x254).jpgFor an hour and a half, we see Malcolm fending off a creepy doll and watching home movie footage of wannabe murderer Aghoul (Dave Sheridan). He makes the mistake of giving into carnal desires, regrettably having wild sex with the doll. Unbeknownst to Megan (who brought the nasty thing into their house in the first place), Malcolm carries on a love/hate relationship the doll. Meanwhile, a zoned-out Becky compulsively carries around a supernatural box. Little Wyatt has an unhealthy imaginary friendship with the unseen Tony (who provides coerces him to drink vodka and more). Returning from part one, Father Williams (Cedric the Entertainer) is called in for an exorcism after Malcolm's solicitations for help from paranormal expert Professor Wilde (Nick Overton) meet a dead-end.

It should go without saying that all this is very aggressively (and knowingly) stupid. But even if you have a taste for this sort of anything-goes, largely scatological tastelessness, this one will likely test your patience. The throwaway one-liners and asides are the funniest moments, with labored (and largely recycled) routines mostly falling flat as the film becomes more manic. It’s as if no one involved was really trying. Comedian Gabriel Iglesias is on-hand as Malcolm’s neighbor, as are Missi Pyle and Hayes MacArthur as paranormal investigators.

Haunted House 2 a (380x254).jpgAs for Universal's Blu-ray, the film is presented in a 1080p, AVC-encoded transfer framed at 1.85:1 and complemented by a DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix. Though it cost more than the first, this is still a relatively low-budget movie. The fact that it strives to replicate the found-footage style of movies like Paranormal Activity results in a product that has the look and sound of a quasi-home movie. It looks and sounds acceptable for what it is, but no one is going to mistake this for a demo-worthy disc. The surround mix provides some decent, bass-heavy jolts. At its worst, some of the dialogue has a bit too much reverb, rendering certain lines less intelligible than others.

Special features include 17 minutes of deleted/extended scenes and a commentary track featuring Marlon Wayans, co-writer/producer Rick Alvarez, and director Michael Tiddes. The Blu-ray package includes a standard DVD and UltraViolet digital copy. The bottom line here is, if you enjoyed the first one there's no reason to avoid A Haunted House 2. Just keep your expectations very low.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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