Times have changed since films like slashers parodies made big bucks back in the early 2000s. The horror genre has also adapted, the previous fashion of Saw, remaking international horror, and other skin-crawling nasties soon gave way to new trends. Found Footage was in, as was calling out the direction the beloved genre was taking. Decades after the first film spoofed the comparatively quaint teenage slashings of Scream, future films and found footage got their day in Scary MoVie.
After the found footage private tape of Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan shows their demonic demise Two marijuana enthusiasts trying to find weed, find a mysterious Cabin in the Woods, and Sheen’s feral children. These events lead to a peculiar research lab where a bunch of hyper-intelligent apes are planning their revenge. Although not before Sheen’s sister-in-law, Jody Sanders, can raise her newly adopted children, all while trying to land the big part in Swan Lake. As these elements all interact with each other, you just know the results are going to be wild.
Scary Movie marks some significant changes from the previous four; gone is President Baxter and even more surprisingly Cindy, but with the departure of Anna Faris, we have Ashley Tisdale taking over as Jody, an intriguing successor to Cindy, who would be interesting to see evolve, if she does return. Charlie Sheen playing himself for the first part, trading in on his notorious persona to some comedic effect, along with Lindsay Lohan is also willing to be on the opposite end of the joke, combined with cameos from Snoop Dog, making Scary MoVie a who’s who of the early decade. We do get a delightful return of Darrell Hammond too. Behind the scenes Zucker is not back in the directing chair, he did help write this film, with franchise newcomer Malcolm D. Lee offering a fresh directing perspective to the franchise.
Found footage freakery is primarily on the menu, with a pastiche of Cabin In The Woods and an extended takedown of the rebooted Planet of the Apes franchise (continuing on the ever-encroaching sci-fi tint the films have taken since 2). The more psychological horror comes from the protracted mockery of Black Swan. Arguably a more cerebral horror than the classic slasher antics that launched the franchise and Mama (which I never watched personally, but Scary MoVie does make a good case for checking it out). It makes sense, the horror genre was in an interesting place in 2011 and the choices of targets feel zeitgeisty enough to warrant their inclusion. As do the less scary choices like Inception and 50 Shades of Gray.
At the core, it feels like the Scary Movies have evolved a lot since the Waymans tried to make some gags out of the Slasher trend over a decade ago. The silly segments have managed to survive for almost 12 years and are still paying dividends. With some significant departures and some spectacular returns, Scary Movie feels as adaptive as the horror genre. Its fifth installment emphasis is on its resourcefulness at getting every last drop of potential out of trends and films. If Scary Movie does return, it has a buffet of legacy reboots to parody from, and an ever appreciative base to cater to, until then, Scary MoVie will have to remain a product of another time.
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