WFTB Score: 2/20
The plot: Newly divorced father Tom Ryan gathers his children and seeks safety from an alien invasion, whilst housesitter Cindy Campbell seeks the key to the invasion in an antiquated Village. Meanwhile, a host of other films invade this one.
I have, may God have mercy on my soul, seen all the Scary Movie films*. The original was a fun, if broad, take-off of Wes Craven’s Scream; Scary Movie 2 an unfunny spoof of the Haunted House genre; and Scary Movie 3, which saw David Zucker wrest control of the franchise, a mixed bag of mediocre movie pot-shots and so-so cameos, leaning heavily on the plots of Signs and The Ring. Could there be anything left to make fun of in this fourth outing?
The answer is an emphatic no. Even at a super-lean eighty minutes, this film outweighs its welcome by a long way, presenting as it does a tiresome and confused story filled with dire jokes. The plot, such as it is, takes the Tom Cruise character from Spielberg’s War of the Worlds (in the shape of Cruise not-much-look-a-like Craig Bierko) and has him living next door to series survivor Anna Faris – still called Cindy Campbell – looking after a woman whose house is the home of a pale Japanese boy similar to the one seen in The Grudge.
As they go their separate ways to halt the alien invasion (death delivered by TriPod, geddit?), Ryan, his surly son and screaming daughter follow the plot of Spielberg’s film; Campbell, meanwhile, teams up again with Brenda Meeks (Regina Hall) and they end up in a Village all too familiar with M Night Shyamalan’s, where Carmen Electra appears as a flatulent blind girl and raises no laughs at all. Anthony Anderson and Kevin Hart appear as – actually, I have no idea who they are meant to be in relation to the plot, but they do a skit on Brokeback Mountain to fill time.
Throw in a backstory that parodies Million Dollar Baby – featuring a ghastly cameo by Mike Tyson as an ear-biting lady boxer – a confusing conclusion which improbably links the alien invasion to Saw, and the desperate introduction of (a sometime naked) Leslie Nielsen as the accident-prone President, and you have some idea of the scattershot approach of the film. There is not a single scene that shows anything like wit or invention, the film content to merely re-stage the action of the original then have a cameo turn up and/or have someone hit their head on something.
Faris is cute and clumsy but is given nothing funny to do, while Bierko shows little talent for comedy (or anything else), so it is doubly a shame that the whole film works up to an overlong spoof of Cruise’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, where the two punch each other.
Slapstick, ass jokes, people’s clothes falling off and a few famous people turning up. You wonder if the 4 of Scary Movie 4 actually relates to the age of the scriptwriters. It’s not funny, and it’s not scary, except for the terrifying thought that they might bother to make another one.
NOTE: This was true at the time of writing. It would require a state of high delirium to make me watch the (supposedly no better) fifth instalment.