With the Scary Movie sequels, I’ve always found that I was very critical of them on the first watch but seeing them makes me feel I was being too harsh. I’ve ended up seeing Scary Movie 5 twice, but I can’t say the same. There’s simply nothing in it that will register as anything even remotely close to hilarious.
Jody Sanders (Ashely Tsdale) and her husband Dan (Simon Rex) gain custody of his two nieces and nephew after the death of their father (Charlie Sheen, kind of playing a version of himself). Aiden is still a baby, but the older Kathy (Gracie Whitton) and Lilly (Ava Kolker) act all creepy due to the influence of “Mama.” As condition of this arrangement, they all move into a McMansion filled with cameras that record their every moment. Thing start going bump in the night and Jody suspects Mama may have something to do with it. The trail will eventually lead to “the cabin in the woods” and an evil book that resides there.
Paranormal Activity, Mama, and Evil Dead are obviously the primarily targets here, but a number of others (not scary movies) are inexplicably parodied. Black Swan, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Help, and Inception get the treatment too. And none of it is done well. The comedy is too reliant on poor slapstick, which is far too predictable to be effective in any manner. And if not that, then the gags are rooted in juvenile immaturity.
It’s a little infuriating that they had a golden target to skewer and plot path to follow yet completely ignore it: Scream 4. The franchise owes its whole existence to the first Scream film, right down to the title (Scary Movie was the working title). So when it came back only a couple years ago, what better lead to follow? The last Scary Movie installment was 7 years back, so this could have used that same sense of rejuvenation, as well as have a reason for the new characters.
And to briefly address that: Is the lack of hitherto franchise star Anna Faris a huge problem? No, not particularly. Her presence really didn’t help the last two all that much and Tisdale is a capable replacement who’s very funny (as proven elsewhere, of course). But the real problem is that like the last couple installments, the movie loads the supporting cast with notables only to do nothing with them. Among others, showing up here are Heather Locklear, Usher, Sarah Hyland, Darrell Hammond, Mike Tyson, and Kate Walsh, but contribute nothing of significance. The more extended visits from Snoop Dogg and Lindsay Lohan fare little better. Sheen lampooning himself may have been amusing, if he hadn’t spent the last God-knows how many years pretty much exclusively doing exactly that. The brightest spot of the last two was Leslie Nielsen, who was used well and stole both of them. But since he sadly passed away since, he is not here and his absence is strongly felt.
The Scary Movie series may never have been on the same level as Mel Brooks, but even on its own scale, number 5 is a low. So memo to any other franchises who are planning on a long hiatus: Simply coming back is not good enough. You need to put these things in called time and effort to make something to justify that wait.