Scary Movie 5: So unfunny, it's frightening

My one-star review of Scary Movie 5 from The National

Be afraid. Be very afraid. The Scary Movie franchise has risen from the grave after a seven-year interment and it is as mouldy, mindless and rank-smelling as a zombie. Those shuffling revenants want to eat your brains and so, too, it feels like, does Scary Movie 5. But only after inveigling some hard-earned cash from your pocket, of course.

Although it doesn’t depart very far from the formula established by its predecessors, some things have changed. Most notably, the series regular Anna Faris decided not to return this time, which could be one of the smartest career decisions she ever makes. In her place is the High School Musical alumna Ashley Tisdale, who gamely does what she can as a wife reluctantly saddled with three children, who are rescued from the wild after being kidnapped, and bedevilled by the ghost that haunts them, in a tedious, extended riff on the recent Jessica Chastain horror flick, Mama.

Sadly for Tisdale and fans of the franchise, Scary Movie 5 is a vivid illustration of the law of diminishing returns. The jokes are flat, the star cameos perfunctory and unimaginative and the plotting barely functional. Nods to Inception, Black Swan and Rise of the Planet of the Apes are behind the curve. On the other hand, a mildly amusing send-up of the gory excesses of the recent remake of The Evil Dead couldn’t be more current.

The film’s humour rarely rises above the juvenile. But it isn’t just the witlessness that makes Scary Movie 5 so hard to laugh along with, but the feeling that you, the audience, are being laughed at.

A pre-title sequence featuring Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan spoofing their tabloid images while they make a sex tape, could have had some comic mileage; but their speeded-up Benny Hill-style bedroom antics and self-skewering jokes about car crashes (appropriate in the context of this train-wreck of a movie), sobriety monitors and tracking ankle bracelets just come across as an ugly combination of silliness and smugness.

And it is all downhill from there. Or rather uphill – as in struggle – because even though it comes in under 90 minutes, the film is still a test of endurance.

Even so, don’t be surprised if this isn’t the last we have seen of the franchise. But you have been warned: Scary Movie 5 isn’t so much entertainment as a mugging. Avoid

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