Scary Movie


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"Did Scream have a plot? "

April 15th, 2013

Scary Movie 5 hit cinemas this weekend and has been universally panned by critics. While I have no assumptions that the movie is anything less than drek (The trailer alone was an abomination to comedy) I did notice the scathing hate thrown at the existing movies in the franchise. I think many people are confusing the series' legacy with the dire spoof movies released over the last decade. The first Scary Movie film was a great homage to horror cinema.

Just the mere mention of a spoof movie seems to send shudders down many cinema goers spines and while the genre has descended into mind numbing tedium (Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans etc.) there are quite a few great films out there. Most will have you believe that the only truly great spoof movie is Airplane! (which is good) but I really do think that is more out of nostalgia as the move has quite a few elements that are now extremely outdated (Including the genre it was lampooning). There are actually a few gems of spoof cinema out there - The Naked Gun Trilogy, Hot Shots, Robin Hood Men in Tights, Loaded Weapon 1, Not Another Teen Movie, Spaceballs, Blazing Saddles (That last one has to be one of the greatest comedy films of all time). The first Scary Movie deserves to be included among them.

Spoof movies were once a rather rare cinema experience that would send up movie trends or genres that had been overused and become predictable. These satirical films would usually be the death knell for an overused concept and actually spark the end of their overuse. Spoofs would usually only use themes and aesthetic looks to base the comedy around which meant they usually had their own story to tell (no matter how silly). Scary Movie was a transition film that while original also set up the groundwork for all the spoofs that followed. It's a bitter pill that one of the better spoofs out there was also responsible for such lazy greedy film making.

Scary Movie above all other references is an amalgam of two 90's franchises, I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scream (It name comes from Screams production title). A group of teens run over a fisherman and dump the body in a river swearing to never speak of the incident again. A year later a killer wearing the ghostface costume from Scream begins a killing spree. Is this the fisherman out for revenge or just some punk who's watched too many movies.

Right from the start I have to mention that a spoof movies narrative is hardly a selling point and more a means to set up a series of sketches. That said I think even in its rip off tale (a point which is hilariously mentioned) it actually manages to throw in a variety of surprises and has its own mystery whodunit . In fact the revelation of the killer (I'm pretty sure it's not who you suspect) is so gloriously funny (a fantastic Usual suspects parody) and cleverly interwoven into the madcap script I was actually more impressed with this movie than a lot of horror that was being released at the time (It's also amazing that the film was made by the combination of two separate scripts).

I was also impressed by the amount of horror knowledge on show. Drawing inspirations from all areas the movie made reference to not only 90's horror (Blair Witch Project, Sixth Sense) but from Slasher moves past (Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street) while they may have not been direct scene parodies they may have been visual clues from clothing to text references (perfect opportunities to re-watch the movie paying attention to the backgrounds). Some Spoofs can come off as shallow but you get a feeling that the writers (all 6 of them) actually have a passion and respect for the material.

While we're on the topic of Shallow unlike the modern incarnation of the spoof Scary Movie actually brings more to the table than just direct rip offs of existing material. A large portion of the comedy comes from the dialogue based interaction between the cast and are brilliant observations of general film making (from the real life age of the actors to over analysing of meta references).

The first thing that drew me towards Scary Movie was not just the fact that it was sending up my all time favourite genre but the fact that this was the first time I remember there being a spoof film with adult comedy. Most had featured PG rated scripts and focused heavily on slapstick and innuendo (There's a lot of that here to) but this movie had the rating to go to places that had never been covered before. It could use bad language (Run Bitch Run), sexual sight gags (A saggy ball sack) and violence (It was spoofing horror after all). It brings with it that edgy feeling of pure anarchy that you feel when watching Airplane!

That's not to say that all the humour works but the jokes come thick and fast and you'll find more jokes per minute than your average comedy feature. If a characters line doesn't do it for you then there's probably something interesting going on in the background. It's also worth noting that this is an extremely juvenile movie which can and will rely on the lowest form of entertainment (depending on how you feel about such material) from race jokes, sexual comments and the odd gross out moment (and over abundance on snot). Fortunately while they appear they are rarely the punch line or focus of a scene (unlike modern spoofs). In fact scenes very rarely have punch lines as they have multiple jokes while furthering the plot.

It's actually hard to write a review on a comedy movie due to how humour is subjective and is not going to appeal to everybody. The best way is to compare the humour to like minded films if you've have enjoyed them you will probably like this movie. The style is not far off the Naked Gun movies with humour closer to Robin Hood Men in Tights and Dumb and Dumber (You could probably include most Jim Carey comedy films here). It goes without saying it's also very similar to the Wayans previous films I'm Gonna Git you Sucker and Don't be a Menaceā€¦(I'm not writing that long ass title here).

Special praise has to be reaped upon the cast who have amazing comic timing and create humour with even the most silly send ups. The Wayans excel in the material (They also wrote portions of the script) and are at the pinnacle of their abilities here (everything following this film feels tired and treading the same ground). Regina Hall brilliantly fails to fit any horror movie mold and actually is more a play on a stereotypical angry black woman, she is a joy when ever on screen (the cinema scene is one of the funniest things I have ever seen especially if you've ever been irritated by people talking in the cinema). Above all else though is the casting of Anna Farris who displays a sweet wide eyed innocence no matter how obscene or absurd the material gets, she was a gift to comedy cinema going forward.

Scary Movie was and still is a great movie (although with some dated material but that comes with most spoof films) and doesn't deserve to be tarnished with the same image as modern Spoofs.If you've never actually sat down to the film because of its reputation you really are missing out.


Other reviews in the series

Scary Movie 2
Scary Movie 3
Scary Movie 4

Other Spoof Reviews

Stan Helsing


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Movie Details

Movie Poster Here
Director:Keenen Ivory Wayans
Screenplay: Shawn Wayans
Marlon Wayans
(+ 4 others)
Released: 2000
Rating:18
Starring: Anna Faris
Regina Hall
Marlon Wayans