Fast-tracked sequels to horror movies aren't uncommon, but when the studio asked Marlon Wayans for a sequel to last year's "A Haunted House," the comedian had his trepidations.
Fortunately, Wayans and his crew for "A Haunted House 2," which opens Friday, said they focused hard on making sure their sequel didn't fall into any of the usual pitfalls for underperforming follow-ups.
"It's always going to be about a good story and characters, and it's all about the jokes," said the 41-year-old writer and star. "It doesn't take a lot of money to make an entertaining movie. It's all about the story."
For the sequel to last year's hit, which spoofed found-footage horror movies, Wayans says he decided not to repeat the same steps he took when he wrote "Scary Movie 2," where the visual jokes trumped the actual story.
"We didn't think about the story with that, we thought about the gags," said Wayans. "We decided to reverse-engineer and start with story [this time]."
For the sequel, Wayans said "The Conjuring," which premiered while "A Haunted House 2" was in preproduction, served as a good starting point for the story. It was an extraordinary movie in the horror genre, said Wayans, and throwing a haunted doll into the story changed things up for his character, Malcolm.
Another big plot point was to give Wayans' character a white wife (Jaime Pressly) to play on the racial stereotypes seen in horror movies.
"Now you have points of view where it's her and she's like, 'Oooh it's a ghost. It's cool!' and he's like, 'Hell no! Let's get out of here,'" said Wayans.
Having those elements in place early on helped move production smoothly because everyone was in tune with the comedic flow and it shows on screen, said Wayans.
"The fun part about these comedies is that you sit there and see these people do some dumb things during scary situations and you laugh," he said.