As said before, the 'Ernest' films will always garner a mixed reception, with people finding it easier than others to take them for what they are and how they execute what they set out to do (that's how my judgement on any film always fares). Rather than having any stereotypical notion of what a film of a certain genre or overall ought to do (there are no rules in film-making, people seem to forget that, not trying to be arrogant in any way, it just seems that way).
The 'Ernest' films are in no way perfect films. They are not even great films, they do have obvious flaws and it is easy to see why there are those who struggle to see the appeal in them and also the character of Ernest. However, to me, none of the films are bad and much better than reputed, though they are more guilty pleasure sort of films that still get a lot of enjoyment out of me. 'Ernest Scared Stupid' is the fourth film, this time celebrating Halloween (inevitable after 'Saves Christmas' celebrated Christmas), and celebrates it it does and in a fun way too.
Yes, there is something perfectly apt about putting stupid in the title because that is what 'Ernest Scared Stupid' is. Even for an 'Ernest' film the plot is incredibly dumb and sometimes contrived with a thin plot that would have been old-hat in the Laurel and Hardy and Three Stooges days. Like most 'Ernest' films, not all the humour works with some of the slapstick oriented scenes being tiring.
Despite great production design and surprisingly not bad special effects, the cheap camera work mars things somewhat. And apart from Jim Varney and Eartha Kitt, the cast are not particularly memorable with the performances of the children being pretty grating.
However, as aforementioned, there is some atmospheric production design that captures the spirit of Halloween really well. The special effects are surprisingly not bad, in fact they're quite good considering the budget, was in all honesty expecting them to be terrible.
'Ernest Scared Stupid's' soundtrack is full of energy and creates unsettling atmosphere and a sense of nostalgia. Most of the humour does work, with some very entertaining writing and gags, even if not sophisticated or subtle (then again who expects either of those things in an 'Ernest' film?). Pacing is bright and breezy, and the film really captures the fun of Halloween and what it's like to be a kid again.
Varney is immensely likable and a lot of fun as Ernest, and to me the character appeals to me despite potentially being the sort of character that doesn't do it for me usually to put it mildly. Ernest is the sort of the character one can relate to easily, the sort of character that is a well-intended serial bumbler with a strong heart but always finding himself messing up. Eartha Kitt is alluring and snappy support.
In conclusion, a fun Halloween time, as long as you don't expect too much and take it for what it's meant to be. 7/10 Bethany Cox