Jody (Ashley Tisdale), a ballerina, and Dan (Simon Rex), a primatologist, adopt three children Dans nieces and nephews found in a cabin in the woods. The kids are being haunted by a ghost called Mama.
The Scary Movie series managed four instalments between 2000 and 2006, so this fifth film counts as a reboot. The added time between instalments doesn’t seem to have encouraged any sharpening of the wit or additional effort on the part of the franchise’s owners. Wayans family involvement ended with Scary Movie 2 - indeed Marlon Wayans has A Haunted House, a competing Paranormal Activity parody, out soon. David Zucker is still in the room as producer and co-writer (with Pat Proft, of Star Wars Holiday Special and Police Academy fame) while the director is new-to-the-series Malcolm D. Lee (Undercover Brother) and Anna Faris’s spot is gamely taken by High School Musical blonde Ashley Tisdale.
This opens and closes with a laboured skit – featuring the Benny Hill Theme, seldom a good sign – in which Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan make fun of their tabloid troubles, in a depressing way which makes you miss the days when they were in amusing movies like Hot Shots Part Deux or Mean Girls. Then, rather surprisingly since advance word suggested this would mostly take shots at the Paranormal Activity films, it turns into a remake (with more blows to the head and babies set on fire) of Mama.
The sorry state of the spoofy movie is demonstrated by the now-ingrained habit of throwing in references to (rather than jokes about) a disparate bunch of movies. Whole reels of this are taken up by redos of chunks of Black Swan, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (lots of monkeys flinging poo), Inception and (prematurely) 50 Shades Of Grey.
Yes, there are whacky outtakes under the end credits – including multiple muffs of a gag involving a pop-up book that was so weak it didn’t get into the actual film. You have to admire the filmmakers’ commitment to being up to the minute, with a cut-down of the remake of The Evil Dead (a film which opens in the UK a week after this), but wonder why they didn’t think to include anything funny.
Lacking a single honest laugh, this is shoddy by comparison with the other Scary Movie sequels which throws it in a pit with Transylmania, Breaking Wind and Stan Helsing.