Directed by Daniel Erickson [Other horror films: N/A]
I definitely didn’t know what I was getting into going into this movie. I know that IMDb labels it a horror/comedy, which I guess is a fair description, but what I didn’t anticipate is just how much fun I would find much of the film.
If there’s one main drawback, it’s that I think Scary Movie runs on a bit longer than it needs to. I think they probably could have cut out ten minutes, maybe 15, and made it a quicker experience, because there were a few times when I felt my focus wander off. Otherwise, though, I think that it’s a movie with a lot of spirit and a lovely and charming encapsulation of Halloween.
For the first thirty minutes of the movie, a group of four friends are standing in line to get into a Haunted house attraction. During this time, an insane killer breaks loose. Most of the film, though, follows the friends, specifically the nervous wreck that is Warren (played by John Hawkes).
On a side-note, one of my favorite things in the film was, when the group of friends played jokes and pranks on Warren, this guy standing behind the group in line – not a part of the group, and in fact never actually talks to anyone in the group – laughs along with the others. The camera often puts him in focus as he cackles at Warren, and in fact he’s credited on IMDb as ‘Laughing Man’ (Ernie Taliaferro in his sole role, if anyone’s wondering). That happened multiple times throughout the movie, and it never got old.
What also never got old were the hokey yet charming set pieces in the haunted house, and really, the whole movie reeked of the spirit of Halloween in a way that, to me, few movies have (such as Trick ‘r Treat, Halloween III: Season of the Witch and, of course, Halloween), and for that alone, I had a really good time.
John Hawkes (who later popped up in Identity, which must be where I recognize him from) was an interesting lead character, and throughout the film we see him consistently surviving the horrors he’s facing. He’s a jumpy guy, though, so the amount of horrors he’s actually facing are sometimes in question. Ev Lunning is decent as a sheriff running for re-election, and Zeke Mills (‘You wonder where the yeller went when you brush your teeth with Pepperdent’) has some funny lines. The best actor, though, is probably Taliaferro and his laughing.
I don’t know if the end of the movie is entirely satisfying, but I think it works with the story, and feels oddly dramatic given the rest of the film’s somewhat light-hearted nature. This is definitely a movie that surprised me, though, and Scary Movie is a movie I’d recommend to fans of early 90’s slashers if they want something a little atypical.
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