Preston Barta // Film Critic
“A Haunted House 2,” 87 min.
Rated R for crude and sexual content, nudity, pervasive language, drug use and some violent images.
Director: Michael Tiddes
Stars: Marlon Wayans, Jaime Pressly, Cedric the Entertainer, Gabriel Iglesias, Affion Crockett and Essence Atkins
North Texas Daily recently had the chance to sit down and chat with comedian Marlon Wayans (“Scary Movie,” “White Chicks”) of “A Haunted House 2” at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Dallas. We talked about his upcoming sequel, “Star Wars,” Yoda, fart jokes, “The Conjuring” doll, family and social media.
What was the moment after the first “A Haunted House” that you felt you could make another one of these? And did you know that there was always more to this story?
Marlon Wayans: “I didn’t plan to make more. I wish I had that much foresight like George Lucas. I wasn’t thinking like that. I thought the first one was a funny movie. I thought there were enough jokes to sustain and make my audiences laugh.
The opening weekend, it did amazing. With the budget that we had and the movies that we were coming out against, we did close to $19 million. We only made the film for $1.7 million. When you’re No. 2 in the box office, all they talk about is No. 1.
But yeah, I wasn’t planning on doing another. But after the success of the first one, the studio was chasing me down. ‘OK. What’s the sequel?’ I was just like, ‘Dude. We weren’t thinking about it. This is just the week of opening. I just finished the promotional tour.’ And they said, ‘We have to do a sequel. You have to do it by next year. We want it out by Halloween.’ I was like, ‘Are you out of your mind? I can’t get a movie out by Halloween.’ I’ve been rushed to do movies and I don’t like it.
With ‘Scary Movie 2,’ we had to make a date and not a movie. So as funny as it was to people, it wasn’t one of our best. We just did jokes. We didn’t really have time to work with the story. Sometimes you want to jab and pepper— you want to modulate your punches.
So with this one, I was like I can’t commit. Let me watch some movies and we’ll see; I’ll chew on it. So Rick Alvarez, my writing partner, and I got a bunch of movies. We watched ‘Sinister,’ ‘Possession’— and there were some things in it that stood out to us. But then, we got into an early screening of ‘The Conjuring.’ And we were like, ‘Oh. That doll. That’s a storyline.’ So we had that and we watched ‘Amittyville Horror,’ the old one and the new one. Then we found what the natural progression for Malcolm, my character, could be.”
And what was the progression for Malcolm? What sort of things did you do differently with this sequel?
Wayans: “Well, ‘A Haunted House’ was a sneak peek into the black perspective of what it was like to deal with the paranormal. We kind of touched on, you know, why do white people do this and why do they do that? This time, I thought it would be fun to marry Malcolm with a white woman and her have that experience like, ‘Oh my God! There’s a ghost in the house! How cool is that?’ Then me come in and be like, ‘Yo. There’s nothing cool about a ghost! Are you crazy?’
I thought having that element there would give us constant comedy. It gave us a whole new place to explore, in terms of the interracial relationship— things that are out there, but we haven’t really talked about. To me, I don’t feel like we’ve seen enough of a black guy and a white girl together. And there are so many mixed families nowadays that it really isn’t that big of a deal. But for some reason, filmmakers are scared to go there.
When you show the world, you want to represent everybody. That’s why we have the Latino next door neighbor, because there really isn’t a whole lot of roles for Latinos in Hollywood. I wanted to give a great, sizable role to a really funny Latino comedian, Gabriel Iglesias, and give that audience something. Let this movie be something for everybody. It’s an equal opportunity offender. It digs everywhere and that’s the fun of the movie. It’s a reservoir for comedy and different from the first one. The first one was just our perspective.”
With the success of the first one, did you come across any additional challenges with making this sequel? Was there ever a time that you wish you had your family there with you, because they were so involved with your earlier pictures?
Wayans: “I always wish I had my family with me. I love working with my brothers. They are my best friends and my heroes. I love to be around them. You kill two birds with one stone when you hang with family because you get to work, but you get to work with the people you love. And that’s fun.
But I had my brother Keenen’s voice in my head. He’s like the Yoda of comedy to me: ‘Fart jokes you must do’ [Laughs]. But yes, they are in me. I’ve been raised with them, raised in comedy with them since I was five-years-old.
I didn’t question, nor was I nervous. I was just excited to use the force and see what I could do— make choices by myself. You pass or fail, and you can’t be scared to fail. Failing is a beautiful thing, because it’s one of the keys to success. So I wasn’t afraid. While I missed them, I didn’t miss splitting that check. Holla!”
[Laughs] You’re a pretty active guy on Twitter. How do you feel that social media has changed your life and the film industry?
Wayans: “Because you directly connect with your audience. The veil has been lifted on the star, because now you’re communicating with your fans. There used to be this separation.
People tweet me with love and I give them love back. If you come at me with something funny to say, I’m going to take a dump on you. And they like that. Afterwards, they will be like, ‘Yo, man. Yeah. You’re right, but I am a fan of yours.’ They just want to have a session with me, man. They just kind of want to quick roast session with me.
I like directly talking to fans. Even when I have screenings of a movie, I have fans tweet their opinion of the movie. I don’t care if it’s good, bad or ugly. I retweet what they say because I want the people to know what other people, like them, think. And my audience, who I make the movie for, they are my critics. I would like to make this movie for actual critics, like yourself, but honestly, I don’t know if they are my audience like that.
But I like it. Some people don’t. My brother brother Shawn is not big on tweeting. He just started tweeting and now he loves it. Keenen just started texting, so, you know [Laughs]. Good luck with that.
I like for people to see what my life is like, letting them see that I get up at 4 o’clock in the morning, hit the gym, go to this outlet and that outlet, get four hours of sleep and do it all over again. And you’re probably like, ‘Damn. How many places have you been?’ I like to let people know that fame is hard work. For all the people who want to be famous, I want them to know what it’s all about. It’s about the work.
I love my fans and they love me. If it wasn’t for them, there would be no me. It’s great. I go to college Q&As and I do lectures at Emerson. I want to speak to that generation, because my brother let me know how to do it. So if I can let them know how to do it and use social media to help them, that’s awesome.”
“A Haunted House 2” opens tonight at 8 p.m. at the Cinemark Denton.
Feature Photo: Marlon Wayans at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Dallas. Photo by Preston Barta.
Center Photo: Jaime Pressly and Marlon Wayans play a couple in battle paranormal activity in “A Haunted House 2.” Photo courtesy of Open Roads Films.