Boo 2! A Madea Halloween

Tyler Perry as Madea in Boo 2! A Madea Halloween. (Ster-Kinekor)
Tyler Perry as Madea in Boo 2! A Madea Halloween. (Ster-Kinekor)

What it's about:

After Tiffany defies her father and goes to a Halloween party at a camp site where a string of murders once took place, she soon comes face to face with a number of apparently supernatural terrors that seem intent on replicating that bloody past. Things get increasingly complicated when Madea, Joe, Bam and Hattie set out to “rescue” Tiffany from the camp site – and that's before learning about the horrors that await them. 

What we thought:

This may be the tenth Madea movie but it is the first once I've ever seen. I enjoyed Tyler Perry is his small role in Gone Girl and I've endured some of his other films (and in the case of something like For Coloured Girls, “endure” is definitely the word) but I haven't actually seen a full instalment of his signature series. Frankly, there was enough unbearable awfulness to be found in the two-minute trailers for any of these films to ensure that I would never go out of my way to watch any of them. I picked the short straw this week, though, and here I am, talking about the 10th Madea film and, as the title might suggest, the second to be set on Halloween.

The great thing about going into a film with such low expectations, though, is that you often find yourself pleasantly surprised. In the case of Tyler Perry's Boo 2: A Madea Halloween (what's that about brevity being the soul of wit?), my expectations could hardly be lower thanks to the Clockwork-Orange-like experience of sitting through some of Perry's past work and being unable to avoid seeing more Madea trailers than is strictly healthy. Frankly, had it just been “pretty bad”, I would have been pleasantly surprised. 

To Perry's enormous credit as some sort of master torturer, then, not only did Boo 2 (you said it, sister!) fail to even begin to assuage my worst fears, it surpassed them on every possible level. This is bad in a way that only the least funny comedies are bad; bad in a way to make you wonder, even if only for a fleeting moment of knuckle-gnawing insanity, if Adam Sandler catastrophes like That's My Boy or Jack and Jill were really that terrible after all (for the record: they were). It's bad in a way that made me very glad I was alone in the cinemas as I literally groaned aloud a good dozen times and even let slip a “SHUT UP!” when the sheer irritation of having to spend 100 minutes with these grotesque characters got to be too much for me. Other Halloween movies may try to scare the pants off me, this made me lose the will to live.

I barely know where to begin. Billed as a “horror comedy”, the painstakingly PG-13 “horror” elements are pathetic. Badly directed, badly staged, badly written and with worse acting than the grimiest straight-to-video 1980s horror flicks, this embarrassing mix of asinine family drama and sub-sub-sub slasher-movie silliness starts off bad and ends up with a denouement that is both wildly predictable and insultingly stupid at the same time. But none of this is anywhere near as bad – or, as  horrific – as the film's attempts at, what I assume must be, “comedy”. 

I could point out that had this film been directed and written by a white person, said person would quite rightly be dragged over the coals for coming up with a film with some of the worst stereotypes of African-Americans since the onset of the Civil Rights movement – but I won't. Honestly, humourless liberal breast-beating is more than this entirely laugh-free film deserves. While the “straight” characters of the film are all but instantly forgettable – and there's clearly no attempt to do anything funny with them so they sort of exist in a totally different film – the film attempts to get most of its yucks from its Greek Chorus from hell of Madea (Perry in drag, as if you didn't know) and her entourage of ex-pimps; sassy old black ladies and what can only be described as a horrible Adam Sandler comedy character in blackface (not literally but almost as offensively). 

If Eddie Murphy dressing up in drag and playing half the cast of his movies was more than enough to torch his career, how on earth has Tyler Perry gotten away with it for ten movies, in a series that hasn't not just failed to torch his career but has basically made him the “star” he is today? It might be a deal with the devil (a strong possibility based on the evidence here) or it might just be that he surrounds himself with “comedic” actors that are playing characters who are even worse than him. 

Madea is unbearable and Perry's other character, misogynistic ex-but-not-really-ex pimp Joe, is the very definition of “what the hell were they thinking?” but they're nothing in comparison to the supernaturally irritating Hattie and, um, Aunt Bam, played respectively – and equally horribly - by Patrice Lovely and Cassi Davis. These are two of the most irredeemably ghastly characters I have ever come across in a so-called comedy film and within, oh, .0002 seconds of meeting them you may just well find yourself on your knees praying for something really, really, really horrible to happen to them.            

The constant and never bloody ending bickering between these... just, just, just horrible characters is presumably supposed to be funny but more than just totally, utterly and completely lacking in even the slightest, tiniest, most insignificant amount of mirth, I'm reasonably sure these sequences have been shipped here from some sort of mirror universe where down is up, good is evil and depressing is funny. And, considering that these films keep on being made, I can only assume that the audiences are shipped from that mirror universe too.

If the other Madea films are even a tenth as bad as this, I can think of no other explanation for how this film has made it to its second sequel, while Blade Runner 2049 struggles hopelessly at the box office. No other explanation at all.