I am a horror movie fan and a casual “slasher” film fan. “Scream” was innovative in the sense that it mixed horror commentary and viewer ability (though it wasn’t arguably the first to do so) but Wes Craven made a mark and revitalized the “slasher” genre with the 1996 film. “Scream 4” comes more than a decade after the original film, and has its work cut out for it. It comes at a time when the pop culture phenomenon the original had achieved has been weakened by its two sequels, and has been besmirched by horror spoofs such as “Scary Movie”. It comes at a time when horror remakes, Asian pale-faced ghosts and the world of ‘torture porn’ have made their mark. One can even argue that it is unnecessary and may be in the same boat as “New Nightmare“ (a good film that couldn‘t salvage the “Elm Street” franchise) “Scream 4” does do one thing right, it stays true to the formula solidified by the original and is set to make new rules.
After many years since the Woodsboro massacre, Sidney (Neve Campbell) returns after going for the literary therapy approach as she recounts her harrowing story through the writing of her own book. Sidney’s return appears to have come at a time when “Ghost Face” returns to kill and wreak havoc once more. Dewey (David Arquette) is now the sheriff and frustrated journalist, Gail (Courtney Cox) is his wife. Sidney and her friends try to stay one step ahead of the killer; while her cousin Jill (Emma Roberts), Kirby (Hayden Panettiere) and two other nerdy horror geeks Charlie and Robbie (Rory Culkin and Erik Knudsen respectively) seems to be in the heart of the mayhem and have decided to use social media to record their experiences…
Sorry, “Scary Movie” and the mediocre “Scream 3” may have just ruined the effect of old “Ghost Face” for me. I know it is not fair, Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson have all the tools to resuscitate the formula of the original “Scream”, but I have to say, it just didn’t have the same effect on me. What I saw was a movie bent on promoting one “slasher” cliché after another. While I have to admit I was entertained as the film made fun of remakes, but It couldn’t totally grab me at all. I’ve read once that the cell phone and GPS would become the death of slasher movies, and this is one movie that proves that statement may indeed be prophecy. I saw a lot of plot missteps, devices that relied on character stupidity and there were scenes that asked for a huge suspension of disbelief. But hey, this is how ‘slasher’ movies charm its viewer, right?
Not to say that Craven and Williamson didn’t have the their game on when it comes to generating thrills and horror elements; the film moves at a very brisk pace and it would be hard to see the numerous plot missteps. Much of the film is focused on Sidney, Dewey and Gail, as it also develops the new characters headed up by Jill and Kirby. Perhaps I should’ve re-watched the trilogy, I couldn’t remember Deputy Hicks. Craven also keeps his touch on the film’s scenes of suspense; the chase sequences and the blood-letting were quite effective. The kills were nicely executed and timed, and the script had its share of surprises. Yes, the film is quite bloody and even gory (entrails, woo-hoo!). I noticed that it wasn’t so much on the area of being ‘bloody’ or more ferocious, but rather Craven approaches the kills with a touch of an almost vicious hilarity. I have to admit I liked the opening act of the film, I thought it was a nice touch to make fun of unnecessary sequels and re-issues, as we see a horror movie within a horror movie in another horror movie even before we see the film’s title.
Now, I know most people may disagree with me, and I know ‘slasher’ movies usually have a weak and an almost horrendous dialogue, but I had major issues with "Scream 4's" dialogue. It feels to be running on a recycled juice that made the original charming, I know it was cliché and formula, but on this side, I felt that I was watching nothing different. The jokes are fun, the discussions of revamping horror movie rules were nice, but I thought it overstayed its welcome and it even succumbed to the idea of this new generation is something where everything gets twitted and uploaded on youtube. Yes, there is some mad commentary about voyeurism and today’s obsession with wi-fi and the internet, but this also hurts the film’s premise in some ways. Craven and Williamson struggles, but they couldn’t really make it work in the narrative, save for the film’s near-climax.
We all know who Sidney, Dewey and Gail were, so what happened to the other characters? Ok, I know most of them were mere cannon fodder, but the supposed sense of community didn’t exactly make it for me. Not sure, I know it probably wasn’t the film’s intentions to hide the killer’s identity, but the film is pretty predictable. There is a blurred sense of who these people are, and I felt no attachment to them. I know in a way, it is a remake, re-issue or something to the original, but I hoped for something more and I felt that it never came. Craven does know how to display mayhem and disorder, and gosh, he does know how to make a splatter film, but I just didn’t care much for any of the characters as I knew that they were just mere devices to rack up ‘body count‘.
Not sure, I found the film entertaining in many ways, but an inventive or necessary, must-see sequel? Well, it all depends on who you ask. “Scream 4” does give the franchise some closure and yet it opens up possibly more room for a new franchise. I suppose I can see “Scream 4” for what it was and truthfully, I thought the film should’ve ended much sooner and it shouldn’t have played longer than it did. I understand that it was a way to draw forth more of the ’slasher’ sensibility, but it felt a little forced. “Scream 4” is the movie that fans of the franchise may have been clamoring for, and I have to say it is the second best film of the franchise. Too bad, but it may have come maybe a few years too late.
Recommended to Fans of the Franchise and a Rental for everyone else. [3+ Out of 5 Stars]
*** out of **** About ten years ago, it seemed as if Wes Craven's "Scream" franchise had come to an end. He struck genre gold with the first film in this on-going series, which was the first film to properly satirize the slasher genre by allowing the in-movie characters to be aware of the horror movies that we have seen. References to "Halloween", "Friday the 13th", and even "A Nightmare on Elm Street" would pop up just about anywhere. Then came the first sequel, which was … more
Star Rating: Cleverness is a double-edged sword, and Kevin Williamson doesn’t seem to understand this. On the one hand, his screenplay for Scream 4 is rife with witty dialogue and a few interesting insights into the horror genre. On the other hand, he spends far too much time winking at the audience, as if he were desperate to make us aware of the many, many conventions the film is both utilizing and working against. He thinks he’s being smarter … more
SCREAM 4 Written by Kevin Williamson Directed by Wes Craven Starring Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox and David Arquette Rachel: These sequels don’t know when to stop. Fifteen years after director, Wes Craven, and original writer, Kevin Williamson, scared the crap out of unsuspecting moviegoers initially, they have finally reunited to resurrect the SCREAM franchise. Original cast members, Neve Campbell, … more
'Scream4 is directed by Wes Craven and written by Kevin Williamson...and they nail it...Bringing back some of your favorite characters (the ones that weren't killed off in Scream 1,2 and 3) and introducing us to several new ones. Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) now the author of a self-help book returns home to Woodsboro on the last stop of her book tour. There she reconnects with Sheriff Dewey (David Arquette) and Gale Weathers (Courteney … more