Rated R - Running Time: 1:35 - Released 7/4/01

Although the tagline for Keenen Ivory Wayans's 2000 horror spoof Scary Movie was "No mercy - No shame - No sequel," that film's considerable profits (which more than doubled its expeditures in its opening weekend last July and continued in force through November) have necessitated the inevitable result: Scary Movie 2, whose tagline is "We lied." Containing much of the same type of foolishness present in its predecessor, SM2 re-convenes some the previous film's creative team (the Wayans brothers plus some other writers) and some of its cast (the characters who lived through the first film), again providing spoof scenes of the most memorable horror/thriller films that have occurred in the past year, like What Lies Beneath, Hannibal, Charlie's Angels, and even The Exorcist, following that 1973 film's 2000 re-release. Perhaps because it concentrates more on actual horror spoof and less on bodily fluids, this film edges out SM1, if only slightly, in comedic impact and successful parody. That's not to say it's a particularly good film, of course; the humor still doesn't provoke more than a few guilty chuckles, but I have no doubt that it will keep Wayans and company in the black (no pun intended) for the foreseeable future.

Taking its setting from 1999's The Haunting, SM2 places sweet young thing Cindy Campbell (Anna Faris), her lustful boyfriend Buddy (Malcolm In The Middle's Christopher Masterson), and friends Shorty (Marlon Wayans), Ray (Shawn Wayans), and Alex (Tori Spelling), among others, in a haunted house under the pretense of a psychological sleep study instigated by their college professor (Tim Curry), who really just wants to make it with some of his female students. The house's sole living resident is its caretaker, Hanson (Chris Elliott), whose terribly disfigured hand causes horror all around, especially when he uses it to prepare food. While staying at the creepy mansion, Cindy discovers that she bears a remarkable resemblance to the house's former matron, who killed her husband and his mistress in a jealous rage.

It soon becomes clear that the husband's ghost still inhabits the place, and upon seeing Cindy, decides to take revenge. (Spelling's character, Alex, who resembles the ghost's sexy mistress, gets a different treatment.) Meanwhile, the house is also apparently haunted by a girl who at one time spun her head around, spoke with the voice of the devil, and spat pea soup, as evidenced by a long Exorcist spoof (starring James Woods as the lustful title character and Natasha Lyonne as the possessed girl) at the film's start.

The best thing one can say about this movie is that it provides reasonably serviceable entertainment for its 18-to-25-year-old market audience. Basically just a bunch of silly spoof scenes cobbled together around a thin premise, it allows the Wayans brothers to have fun in the way a group of kids might have fun with a video camcorder, except with a multi-million-dollar budget. It doesn't represent great vision on the part of its writers or its director, nor does it contain the kind of biting satire one finds in more intelligent comedies. It simply represents a rather sophomoric but lighthearted view of the latest horror movies, and a mercenary viewpoint on how to make money from them. ***½

Copyright 2001 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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