Scary Movie V (2013) / Comedy-Horror
MPAA rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content throughout, language, some drug material, partial nudity, violence, and gore
Running time: 86 min.
Cast: Ashley Tisdale, Simon Rex, Erica Ash, Katrina Bowden, Lidia Porto, Katt Williams, Terry Crews, Gracie Whitton, Snoop Dogg, Ben Cornish, Molly Shannon, Josh Robert Thompson (voice)
Small role: Charlie Sheen, Darrell Hammond, Lindsay Lohan, Jerry O'Connell, Jasmine Guy, Heather Locklear, Angie Stone, Mike Tyson, Kate Walsh, Bow Wow
Director: Malcolm D. Lee
Screenplay: Pat Proft, David Zucker
One of the biggest complaints I have made regarding the Scary Movie franchise has been that not enough time had passed between entries for a good crop of horror movies to spoof, resulting in lampoons of nearly every big franchise of the previous year, while also giving a few digs to high profile celebrities in the news. Only six years separated the first Scary Movie with Scary Movie 4, so with seven years between 4 and this one, Scary Movie V, there should be no issue with finding a good deal of material in the interim to spoof, right?
Quite wrong, as it turns out, as this entry ends up being the one with the least amount of laughs and lowest amount of movies from which it draws material. Most of Scary Movie V is wrapped around the Guillermo del Toro production, Mama, which had just had a release a mere three months prior to SM5's release into theaters. The only other prominent "scary movies" featured include Evil Dead, which was released a week prior, and Paranormal Activity, which had already been heavily skewered in 2013 by one of the former Scary Movie creators, Marlon Wayans, in A Haunted House. With a dearth of adequate inspiration, and coming out too late to the party, this is paltry goods to dish out into theaters and still expect people to pay full ticket prices to see.
The gist of the storyline is that three feral orphans found in a cabin in the woods are adopted by their uncle Dan (Rex, Superhero Movie) and his girlfriend, Jody (Tisdale, High School Musical). The children claim that they've had a protector in the house, they've dubbed "Mama", and now in their new home, all manner of strange, frightening, and eerie events begin to occur. Security cams are installed to detail the events, eventually culminating in calling in a psychic to try to get rid of the supernatural spirits that have invaded. Meanwhile, Jody is trying out for the ballet only to find it is more fiercely competitive (and perhaps deadlier) than she ever imagined. Dan has problems of his own on the job at a high-tech genetics lab, where they're performing drug experiments on poop-flinging chimps that are making them as smart as humans.
The screenwriters credited with Scary Movie V are comedy veterans Pat Proft (Moving Violations, Police Academy) and David Zucker (An American Carol, BASEketball), the writer and director, respectively, of Scary Movie 3 and Scary Movie 4. Both men are in their mid-60s, doling out humor that seems just as old. There is little question that these men did not spend the intervening years honing the script for this entry; I'd wager that they spent no more than a week to cobble it together. If not for the rather lengthy end-credit sequence, there isn't enough material here to fill 75 minutes of movie. I doubt many in the audience will feel cheated by the merciful brevity, if they haven't already made a hasty early exit before the clip-filled roll.
So, if only three legitimate "scary movies" are spoofed, what is offered in the meantime? Lots of references to the sci-fi actioner, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and, perhaps most bizarrely, one of the Best Picture nominees released in 2010, the trippy drama, Black Swan. The mind-bending science fiction of Inception is also heavily lampooned featuring a Leonardo DiCaprio lookalike.
In a film full of crude and sexual humor, Ashley Tisdale gets the starring nod in what is quite a racy role for a PG-13 flick, which, in the same year that the Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens vehicle, Spring Breakers, gets a release, proves that parents might be strongly cautioned from allowing their impressionable kids to these movies just because they feature some of their favorite kid-show stars. Tisdale does a good job with the broad comedy, though she doesn't quite go all in like Anna Faris had done in the previous entries. Simon Rex, the only returning main player from the franchise, gives us more of what we've come to expect.
C-list celebrity cameo appearances abound, most notably the relatively amusing intro scene spoofing Paranormal Activity featuring Charlie Sheen (The Big Bounce) and Lindsay Lohan (Machete), both riffing off of their recent legal troubles and public meltdowns for laughs. Others feature Heather Locklear (The Perfect Man) as a ballerina, Jerry O'Connell (who seems to be a magnet for bad comedies), Mike Tyson, Tyler Perry (in full Madea garb), and a small supporting role for Snoop Dogg (er, Lion?). A Morgan Freeman soundalike, Josh Robert Thompson, provides the occasional narration, spoofing -- well, any movie in which Freeman is a narrator, I guess. Many of the gags target the couple's rotund Hispanic housekeeper, her unattractiveness, and her deep, Catholic-based superstitions.
Directed in workmanlike fashion by Undercover Brother's Malcolm D. Lee, one would get the impression that even he knows that there isn't a great deal of choice humor to be mined from the scant screenplay, as he employs fast-motion scenes to give the impression of hijinks (even the Benny Hill-popularized, "Yakety Sax" gets dusted off). Though there are a few witty lines within the film, much of the humor involves silly slapstick and scatological references, including the aforementioned apes flinging their feces and little kids putting objects into their bums. It's difficult to slam the film on this level, however, as this kind of humor has been part of the series all along, and has explored the depths with much more fervor than the rather mild references tossed up here.
Scary Movie V has about five minutes worth of truly inspired and clever material, and about 70 minutes of misfires, which is a far cry from a recommendation for anyone who isn't willing to laugh at the dumbest of gags possible. At this point, I've run out of recommendations for the series except that I hope that it comes to a merciful end for everyone involved, as I do believe the series has hit a real wall in terms of where it can go from here.
The horror genre is already full of semi-comedic parodies, from Tucker and Dale vs. Evil to Cabin in the Woods to Zombieland, and many more. The days of spoofs has given way to something even more meta, whereby talented genre filmmakers see the funny parts of their own chosen storylines. Rather than make fun of it, they make fun with it, and horror fans have long since graduated from the sophomoric gags that have already been showcased in parodies on YouTube and Funny or Die skits within days after they've become popular. Like the undead forces poked fun at within the movie itself, this franchise just doesn't know when to stay dead for good.
©2013 Vince Leo