Stan Helsing isn’t so much a continuation of the scattershot horror parodies popularized by the Scary Movie franchise as it is an outright satire of them. Not that such a designation amounts to much of anything in a film that succeeds in the not-insubstantial challenge of making the efforts of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer (of Disaster Movie infamy) look creatively desirable by comparison. Rather, Stan Helsing‘s satire-on-satire approach is little more than a crutch for newfound levels of brazen stupidity and filmmaking laziness—general inanities that suggest the directorial trademarks of Ed Wood Jr. without the impassioned creativity apparent between the lines.
This might be the cheapest-looking production of the year (yes, even more than Paranormal Activity), but the real tragedy is that such blatant cutting of corners could have been used to sublime comedic effect in the right hands. Like too many purported comedies of late, there isn’t humor in Stan Helsing so much as there is simplistic audio/visual recognition offered up for the absentminded masses: Dunderhead horror movie references (the protagonists make their way to “the last house on the left”) and nods toward pop culture (Michael Jackson sells freeze pops in the shape of a dick, while President Obama shows up at a karaoke contest for no reason whatsoever) are scattered throughout an unrelenting string of sex jokes and toilet humor that long for the slightest whiff of wit or audacity (where are the Farrellys when you really need them?).
Here, four empty-headed teenage archetypes en route to a Halloween party find themselves trapped in an isolated town tormented by both a tragic past and a motley crew of monsters culled from the past two decades worth of horror franchises (Leatherface wields a leaf-blower, Chucky mimes blow-jobs, and so on). At about the halfway mark, Stan Helsing offers a few moments of fleeting pleasure as its characters seem to be on the brink of realizing that they are, in fact, only in a movie; Kenan Thompson’s deliberately pathetic execution of a clichéd urban man’s frightened yelping is practically transcendent in context, whereas the verbal smackdown given to the film’s trademark idiot cheerleader slut is a welcome instance of the film finally stating the obvious. Alas, such moments are too little too late. So unenthused are the collective efforts of the cast (at times they seem to be reading their lines from title cards located off screen) that one practically expects them to quit mid-take and walk off the set. If only.