Despite the flies and other obstacles that come with a low-budget film, Wayans and other members of the cast and crew made the most out of filming for A Haunted House 2, which hits theaters April 18.
The PHOENIX sat down with Wayans (White Chicks, Scary Movie) — the film’s writer and star — and actor Gabriel Iglesias (best known for his standup routine “Hot and Fluffy”), to get some insight into the process of producing a sequel and working with other comedians.
“I got great responses on Twitter and … Facebook [about A Haunted House],” Wayans said. “Those to me are my critics, and they all loved the first one.”
The frightening past that Malcolm thought he left behind in the first movie is the connection between the first and second movies. After seemingly getting rid of his demon-possessed girlfriend Kisha (Essence Atkins), Malcolm begins A Haunted House 2 starting a new life with a new girlfriend. He quickly realizes the house is haunted, but as the story continues, Malcolm questions whether the house is really occupied by something paranormal or if Kisha is back for revenge.
Undertaking a sequel meant a new storyline and new faces, but Wayans also wanted to up his own game and get more laughs.
“If I couldn’t make [the sequel] as funny or funnier then I didn’t feel like doing it,” Wayans said. “I don’t want to cheat the audience.”
Even though there was pressure to perform up to his own standards and please his audience, it didn’t keep Wayans and his cast and crew from having a good time during filming.
“[If] you set a level of expectation you should always try to better and to top what you did last,” Wayans said. “But at the same time, in order to do that, you have to forget about what you did in the last one and just go play and have fun like you did in the first one.”
According to Wayans, a big part of the fun of creating A Haunted House 2 was having a strong cast with comedy backgrounds to work with. Some of the characters, such as Cousin Ray-Ray (Affion Crockett), appeared in the first Haunted House movie with Wayans. Other characters such as Miguel (Iglesias) will be making their debut to the series.
“[Wayans and I] met during a standup show,” Iglesias said. “Then I got called in for an audition and I just messed that audition up bad. I had a half-hour to focus on these lines and I still messed them up. Eventually [Wayans] got frustrated and he just said ‘OK let’s just play, let’s just talk back and forth.’”
Simply talking back and forth with Wayans allowed Iglesias’s best comedic techniques to shine, and a lot of that improv-style comedy was utilized in the film.
“The most frustrating part is that I’m a part of writing [the movie] and I still don’t stick to the script,” Wayans said. “I just get so much into having fun that I think that more magic can happen just freestyling.”
But being able to freestyle for most of the film requires Wayans to have a great amount of trust in the comedic talent of the actors.
“It’s not like we are very [methodical] about the art of comedy,” Wayans said. “So I just trust these guys and know what they’re going to say is going to be funny. I don’t need them to say every line. … Let’s just go have fun.”
Most of the fun for the actors happened at just one set location. According to Wayans, about 18 of the 25 days of filming were shot in the house where the film takes place.
The small set was a result of being handed a small budget — about $2 million to $3 million, according to Wayans. To put that in perspective, the budget for a film like the The Avengers was $220 million. This might have restricted the filmmakers in achieving more technical elements, but to Iglesias, the small budget wasn’t a problem.
“Having the pressure of the small budget brings out the creativity because you have to be resourceful and think, ‘How can we do this, make it funny without the use of [blank],’” Iglesias said. “That makes it [more clever].”
Wayans and the rest of the crew made use of all the resources available to create a parody with even more laughs. Since comedy comes easy to the cast of A Haunted House 2, the disadvantages of production didn’t inhibit the team from having a good time.
“I like working with friends,” Wayans said. “So that way, I’m not going to work. … I’m just going to hang out and say some lines.”