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Scream 4

A movie directed by Wes Craven and written by Kevin Williamson

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Sidney Comes Home....But Is it Too Late?

  • Apr 16, 2011
Rating:
+3
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…

                                Courtney Cox in "Scream 4."

                               David Arquette and Courtney Cox in "Scream 4."

                               Emma Roberts in "Scream 4."

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.

                            Allison Brie, Marley Shelton, Adam Brody, Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, David Arquette and Anthony Anderson in "Scream 4."

                            Anna Paquin and Kristen Bell in "Scream 4."

                            Rory Culkin and Hayden Panettiere in "Scream 4."

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‘.

                         Erik Knudsen, Rory Culkin, Marielle Jaffe and Hayden Panettiere in "Scream 4."

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]
 
Poster art for "Scream 4." Poster art for "Scream 4."


 
Sidney Comes Home....But Is it Too Late? Sidney Comes Home....But Is it Too Late? Sidney Comes Home....But Is it Too Late? Sidney Comes Home....But Is it Too Late?

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May 18, 2011
I wish it was too late for Sidney; I can't stand her character for some reason. Maybe 'cause all the Screams after the first one seemed to be so predictable. Great review as always Woo!!!
July 06, 2011
thanks, Brenda!
 
April 16, 2011
I've never been a big fan of this franchise. I tend to like Wes Craven's earlier films (same way with John Carpenter). I did like the first "Scream", but the sequel was such a mediocre '90s horror flick that I ended up skipping the third one. If I see this I'll wait for the DVD.
April 17, 2011
agreed. For some reason, they tend to lose a little of the quality that made them successful the more movies they seemed to make. It must be a common thread here H-wood. I cannot even remember the first or second sequel, the original is still somewhat fresh in my head though.
 
April 16, 2011
Yeah I think I will wait for the rental, great review WP.
April 16, 2011
If you're a fan of the franchise, it may be a good watch for you.
 
April 16, 2011
Nice review. The cliches are meant to be there. Like the original when Syd comments on the girl running up the stairs instead out the door and when chased she runs up the stairs. Williamson plays with the cliches and has fun with them. Scream always played up to technology even in past films, but this one uses them more for plot points and I felt it worked well. Gotta diagree with you on the writing. Scream, Scream 2 and Scream 4 are all well-written and while neither are in my top 10 slasher flicks, they are better written then 99% Scream 4 for me hit all the right notes and makes for one of the top slasher flicks the past 10-years and while I don't think this will have the impact of the original, like that film however its sharp and clever and Williamson clearly still understands the horror genre.
April 16, 2011
I liked the way the screenplay worked with the direction (I know it works with slasher cliches) and Craven did a great job with the timing and execution of the kills. I just didn't like parts of the dialogue, I know and I agree that perhaps they were meant to be there but it felt like a rehash. I had a huge problem with someone using a cell phone to call and ask the questions (easily traceable)--I know there are cell clones and such, but I do believe those should've been explained a lot more in the script. One thing I have to agree, Scream 4 is better than # 2 and 3. Craven may still have it, and Williamson does have his game, but I just couldnt shake the feeling that he got a little rushed on several areas. I still liked the original a lot more, and maybe I should've seen 2 and 3 again. I guess "Scary Movie" really ruined the effect for me.
April 16, 2011
Well remember the killer often used other peoples cell phone. But explaining that would slow the pace down, plus in Scream it was stated the cell used was a clone. As for Scary Movie don't see why that would ruin this for you seeing as spoofs have been around since the 30s with movies like James Whale's The Old Dark House. That's been a staple of the horror genre for 70-years now. As for Craven I really don't give him as much credit as I do Kevin. In reality any decent horror filmmaker could have done this. The Scream flicks were always about Kevin's writing that's why Scream 3 wasn't very good due to his loss.
April 16, 2011
That is true about the cell phone, but the cops did do the tracing in the beginning of the film (Sid's rental), so what stopped them with the others? The reason why "Scary Movie" may have ruined it for me is because when this film threw in some light subtle (if dark) humor, I felt that they were too familiar, and it seemed to parody itself. Maybe it was the delivery or the acting but that was how I felt. I did like the way Craven did the kill scenes though and I applauded when Sidney goes "you forgot the first rule of horror remakes, don't fuck with the original." LOL!. Hey, I heard Williamson left the franchise because of an issue with the Weinteins?
April 16, 2011
Well word has it Williamson was working on something else and needed more time with Scream 3, but the Weintsein's wanted to move foward. However it appears they wanted something different than what Kevin wrote and that's why he was out of Scream 3, big mistake. Scream 4 had some behind the scenes BS as well, but the screenplay still feels very Kevin Williamson
 
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review by . October 15, 2011
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*** 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 …
review by . April 16, 2011
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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 …
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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, …
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Director: Wes Craven
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Release Date: 15 April 2011 (USA)
Screen Writer: Kevin Williamson
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