The general rule of spoofs is that by the time a movie genre is ready for its piss-take, its popularity has definitely passed its peak. Mel Brooks put a well-timed boot into Westerns with Blazing Saddles, while Airplane! nailed the coffin shut on '70s disaster flicks. Scary Movie's spectacular US box-office run suggests that movie-goers have finally grown bored of jaded, self-aware teens who jeer at horror movie clichés and then get killed anyway.
The brainchild of the Wayans brothers - - Keenen directs, Shawn and Marlon star, and they all had a hand in the script - - Scary Movie blends the teens-in-peril plots of the Scream trilogy with I Know What You Did Last Summer and its sequel. It also takes a page straight out of the Farrelly brothers' play book, and is busting with raunchy, gross-out humour.
All the elements are instantly recognisable: Carmen Electra "being" Drew Barrymore in the opening sequence; a good girl lead named Cindy Campbell; a hick cop dumber than a sackful of David Arquettes, and the news-bitch plying him for leads; and the killer in the Ghost Face mask.
One of the features of mockery movies has always been their hit-and-miss nature, and Scary Movie has its share of feeble japes. But the unexpected, and cheering, bombshell is how many actually work, and how game the cast of young actors are to look like fools. Keenen Ivory Wayans keeps it all fleet-footed and light, while firing broadsides at, among others, The Matrix, The Blair Witch Project and The Sixth Sense.
Rude, crude and instantly disposable, this is one film where you leave your brain at the door and settle back for some mindless but hilarious fun. Horror movies are renowned for spawning ever-diminishing sequels, but we'd be more than happy for a second helping of this.