When it started out with its first instalment, a riff on Wes Craven’s Scream, the Scary Movie franchise was harmless enough, with its creators Keenan Wayans, Shawn Wayans and Marlon Wayans – who have all since departed – merely using the formula to poke fun at Hollywood horror films through pop culture references and low brow humour. With every instalment since, however, the franchise has deteriorated rapidly, becoming stale and trashy. This is no better highlighted than in Scary Movie V.
Jody (Ashley Tisdale, a poor substitue for Anna Faris), a ballet dancer, and Dan (Simon Rex), an Ape researcher, become responsible for three troubled children after their dad, Charlie (Charlie Sheen), dies under supernatural circumstances. Before long, bizarre, demonic activity that may or may not relate to the children’s dead mother starts to plague their everyday lives. It’s up to Jody and Dan, with the help of indoor cameras and expert advice, to ensure their newfound family’s safety.
As far as narratives go, Scary Movie V is in a league of its own. Vulgar, moronic and trite, screenwriters David Zucker and Pat Proft have constructed a paper thin plot from which the film weaves in and out of at its own accord. It’s as if Zucker and Proft, knowing an audience has already been ascertained (the franchise has so far grossed over $800M worldwide), have switched to autopilot and delivered the bare minimum, more often than not leaving it to a Morgan Freeman-like voiceover to fill in the blanks.
The best, and arguably only way to describe what unfolds during the brisk, yet excruciating 85 minute running time, then, is as an untidy patchwork of sketches riffing on films from Mama and Paranormal Activity to Black Swan and the as-yet-to-be-released Evil Dead remake. It’s not only that none of the spoofs are even remotely funny (most of the gags are either to do with physical pain or flatulence issues), but also that none feel appropriate enough for the films target audience.
It’s perhaps more unsettling to note that the best part of the whole film comes right at the beginning with an opening segment that finds Charlie and some floozy (played by a spaced-out Lindsay Lohan) subjected to a demonic attack while attempting to film a sex tape. It very barely sets up the rest of the film, but mostly acts as an opportunity for Lohan and Sheen to poke fun at their respective lives, from court dates and DUI’s to sobriety bracelets and everything in between.
It’s not enough to make what cinematic travesties occur thereafter excusable though. Scary Movie V is an abomination in every sense of the word. If there’s anything to be learned from it (the fact that no one should see this film unless content with losing a massive amount of brain cells and 85 minutes of their life being a given), it’s that Faris has done herself a massive favour by freeing herself from such a damning and, quite frankly, offensive franchise that should be obliterated from existence.