The temptation to simply rehash the reviews of 'Scary Movies 1, 2 and 3' is immense. Well, if scriptwriters can re-use old material, why can't movie reviewers? In short, if you liked the first three movies, you'll probably like this, though even the hardcore fan might be hard pressed to believe that this is anything other than a cynical cash-in on a successful genre and a successful brand-name. Though originality is not necessarily the keystone of good movie making, repetition is certainly the quickest way to drive the audience away.

Just like the original 'Rocky' movie won three Academy Awards, then descended into self-parodying farce, 'Scary Movie' has merely taken this formula and hammered it to death (though, to suggest that the first 'Scary Movie' should have won Oscars is probably funnier than any joke contained in the film).

Even so, there are a few laughs. Leslie Nielsen, predictably, garners most of them. Whether he's getting the best lines or merely has the best delivery is debatable at this point, since nothing he says in 'Scary Movie 4' is remotely as funny as, say, 'Airplane!'.

The most impressive thing about 'Scary Movie' is the faithfulness with which sets from the parodied movies have been replicated and the special effects imitated. The viewer is left to wonder how much money was spent on such superficial elements, and why the same money could not have been diverted to pay for adequate scriptwriters. Then again, perhaps the genre has been so well-and-truly mined that no new jokes exist. Indeed, 'Scary Movie 4' soon falls back on the old staples: toilet humour, sexual innuendo and Michael Jackson gags.

Ultimately, the most diverting thing about 'Scary Movie 4' is attempting to identify all the films that have been ripped-off. And that is unlikely to satisfy movie audiences for too much longer.

Barry J Whyte