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Scary Movie

Raunchy Movie

By Jumaane Jeffries

staff writer

Directed by Keenan Ivory Wayans

Written by Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Buddy Johnson, Phil Beauman, Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer

Starring Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Carmen Electra, Shannon Elizabeth, Anna Faris, Jon Abrahams, Lochlyn Munro

Rated R (barely)

Someone must have seen this coming.In the past five years: horror film has experienced a gradual revival. They are as popular as they were in the 80s, perhaps even more so. With the monstrous successes of the Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer series, the blood-and-screams craze doesn’t look like it’s going to end any time soon. After starring in the raunchy gang-movie spoof Don’t be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood, the Wayans brothers return with Scary Movie -- raunchier than ever. Directed by Keenan Ivory Wayans and showcasing the comedic talents of brothers Shawn and Marlon, Scary Movie has something for everyone -- frightening masks, knives, metal hooks, and whoopee-cushions. It’s a parody of Scream, which is a parody of the horror genre in general.

This movie, oddly enough, is even produced by Dimension Films, the makers of Scream. “If this were Scream,” Cindy (Anna Faris) says, “I’d be cast as Jennifer Love Big-Tits.”

The plot is not unfamiliar -- six teens are brought together by the murder of a classmate on Halloween because of their accidental murder of a pedestrian exactly one year ago, which they kept silent. You pretty much know where the horror hijinks go from there, but there are enough twists to keep the audience hooked.

The opening scene immediately establishes the Wayans’ penchant for the comical to the absolutely mind-boggling. The movie’s classic first victim, played by a scantily-clad Drew Becker (Carmen Electra), dances around exaggeratedly clichÉd symbolic objects, such as the elephant-sized popcorn cooker. Some of the gags seem extraordinarily random, while others are on-target.

Scary Movie cleverly exposes many aspects of the newest horror films. The opening scene, for example, is not the only place in which big breasts are prominently and conveniently displayed. At times, you may find yourself sympathizing with the murderer as he literally scratches his head in reaction to the stupidity of the victims. Buffy’s “just-won’t-die” death scene is a hilarious example that is hysterically executed by Shannon Elizabeth.

Of course, the murderer himself has questionable mannerisms and intellect. He engages in plenty of horrific and stupid banter. To add to the murderer’s foolishness is his mask, which dramatically changes its facial expressions, and a drawn-out Budweiser moment. “Whasssuupp?” Randy (Marlon Wayans) asks the murderer. “Just chillin’... killin’” the murderer responds.

Of course, the characters fit one-dimensional archetypes (the frat jock, the airhead, the slacker etc.), making them almost as generic as this movie’s title. The actors play their parts quite nicely. In addition to mocking its own cinematic nature, Scary Movie parodies the camera-work of horror films past, leading to, at the very least, Cindy’s zooming camera-induced head injury.

Since this is a Wayans film, there is plenty of teenage culture satire. Dawson’s Creek’s James Van Der Beek even makes a cameo appearance to that effect. But much more classic Wayans is the race-based humor, reminiscent of “In Living Color.” Every stereotype is exploited here; for example, Cindy dials 911 and explicitly explains that she is a “white woman in trouble,” causing the police to arrive literally within seconds. The “ghetto black girl movie heckler” archetype (played by Regina Hall) is also exploited, and her demise comes when the theatre audience members exact their revenge.

Still remaining is the burning question: Is Scary Movie really a scary movie? Can it generate its own gore? The answer is yes. It does shock, and that is, well, shocking. Sure, the movie has its moments of violence and mild bloodletting. But why shocking? Well, let’s just say that blood only accounts for a little less than half of the body fluids displayed in the film (thanks to the sex scene toward the end of the film which all but crams There’s Something About Mary into our minds). And yes, there are enough male anatomy shots to almost justify its advance NC-17 billing.

That might be enough to turn some away from this scary movie, but it does have a lot laughs going for it. This is definitely the movie-goer’s movie, and it goes for the jugular. It even has a killer surprise ending that parodies itself and everything else, making it a parody to the third power that’s worth the price of admission. It’s base, it’s vile, it’s blatantly disrespectful, and that’s why it’s hilarious. Give Scary Movie at least this much credit: It has had a more successful opening weekend than the movies it parodies. Now that’s truly scary.