No one expects a Scary Movie sequel to be great – it doesn’t even need to be good. But a passing awareness of what their audience (gangs of pre-teens who come for the crude and sexual humour) are after has led the franchise to unprecedented box office success and a longevity that it really doesn’t deserve. This fifth instalment, which took a whole seven years to get made, proves this more than any of its predecessors, focusing on everything that’s wrong with the series and binning the few saving graces it had going for it in the first place.
First of all, Anna Faris has moved on to bigger and less embarrassing things, and has since been replaced by High School Musical star Ashley Tisdale. There’s a reason that Tisdale hasn’t been used for most of the promotional material, with trailers focusing almost exclusively on the movie’s first ten Lindsey Lohan and Charlie Sheen-containing minutes. To be fair, the most enjoyment you’ll get here is from their brief exchange, if you find wayward substance-addicted celebrities embarrassing themselves appealing. Of course, reading praise of those jokes you’ve already seen in ads and trailers, you’ll know that the rest of it’s pretty bad.
They at least show a willingness to take the piss out of themselves, taking off their various court-ordered tracking devices before getting down to business. For everyone else, this is just sad – with particular regret going to Usher and Snoop Dogg/Lion who, the last time I checked, still have healthy careers and millions in the bank. But what films are getting the spoof treatment this time? It’s a mixture of relevant and irrelevant, including recent movies like Evil Dead (remake) and Mama, and others such as Black Swan and Paranormal Activity.
The reaction in my screening to the Evil Dead sequence (featuring current teen stars that can all do much better) was a strange one since, as the film hasn’t actually been released in UK cinemas yet, all we had to go on was the trailer, which had at least been shown before the film. But in general, the humour in Scary Movie 5 is so generic, repetitive and tiresome that you don’t even have to have seen the butt of the jokes to understand. No matter what film the hook of the gag came from, it’ll inevitably end with someone getting hit by a frying pan or someone’s flatulence propelling them across a room.
Shockingly, there are actually a few laughs you don’t feel ashamed of afterwards, but it’s more out of a sense of resignation than any real wit from the writers. Whether it’s Black Swan’s pretentious editing or the Morgan Freeman impersonator narrating the action, there are glimpses of hope where we at least get the sense that someone actually saw the films being lampooned. Otherwise, most of the jokes straddle the line between politically incorrect and downright offensive, with rogue frying pans filling the gaps between plot-related shenanigans.
People will wonder how things could be worse, but a trailer for similarly structured A Haunted House (from former Scary Movie screenwriter Marlon Wayans) will answer that query for you in two and a half minutes. The truth is that it can always get worse, and the Easter holiday crowd in the cinema with me seemed happy enough with what they were being served. These films know their audience, and know that they don’t need to try any harder to get their bums in cinema seats, so I wouldn’t be surprised if a Scary Movie 6 was announced in the near future.
Call it the decline of our culture, or the end of cinema as we know it – whatever you want – just make sure you don’t watch it. It offers absolutely nothing new to a franchise that should never have gotten a part two (remember that ironic ‘no sequels’ tag on the first movie’s poster?), and you’d be much better off just getting your friends together to watch the superior movies it’s attempting to poke fun at. I guarantee that you and your mates can come up with something more inspired that this shambles.
Follow our Twitter feed for faster news and bad jokes right here. And be our Facebook chum here.