Scream 4 – Review


A sequel worthy of the Scream franchise

Whether good or bad, every film fanatic has some sort of relationship with Scream. Like a beloved movie from your childhood, I’ve found that the Scream experience is a very personal one. In 1996 (when the first Scream film was released) I was a sheltered high school senior. It was my first slasher film. Scream molded me into the horror fan I am today. And it’s easy to see why.

Fifteen years ago Wes Craven single-handedly revitalized the slasher genre with his tongue-in-cheek take on the very movies that he himself mastered. Scream was timely in its pop culture references, genuinely funny, and at the same time genuinely frightening. The trilogy, though perhaps flawed, hold a very special place in my heart. The real question that everyone wants answered: Will Scream 4 (or SCRE4M) deliver in the same ways that Scream did fifteen years ago?

In Woodsboro, CA, it’s the fifteenth anniversary of the first appearance of Ghostface and survivor Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) returns for the first time since the killings. She’s written a self-help book and on a book tour organized by her savvy publicist Rebecca (Alison Brie). Sidney is staying with her Aunt Kate (Mary McDonnell) and teenage niece Jill (Emma Roberts) while in town; Jill and her friends soon become the target of the Ghostface killer. A copycat of the original killings, Ghostface’s return to Woodsboro seems to coincide with Sidney’s. Even though all of these teens text, facebook, and tweet more than they talk, Ghostface still stalks his victims the old-fashioned way: with his raspy voice over the phone.

Also returning are Dewey (David Arquette) and Gale (Courteney Cox), now married. He’s the Sheriff and with Gale retired from journalism, the shift in dominance is beginning to cause problems in their relationship. With the return of a Ghostface killer and the body count quickly rising Gale and Dewey choose to go their own ways in order to solve the case.

The return of the old faces is fun for fans, but it’s the new, young cast that really helps Scream 4 shine. The entire young cast out-snarks their older counterparts, making for some of the more witty lines in Kevin Williamson’s script. The teenagers take shots at everything in current pop culture from the Saw movies to Top Chef to Twitter. His writing was sorely missed from Scream 3, and it’s so refreshing to have him back. Hayden Panettiere (TV’s Heroes), with her freshly shorn locks, makes for a cute, rebellious, closet film geek. Rory Culkin (Signs) is similar to Randy (Jamie Kennedy) from the original Scream films; he’s the film geek who knows the rules of the horror sequel, the rules that the killer seems to be abiding by.

As a fan of the original Scream films, I was not disappointed. Scream 4 fits perfectly with the tone, writing style, character development, and silliness of the first three. I think that’s what people forget sometimes, just how silly the first three films were. They were meant to be scary, but they were also meant to be fun. With a fun, gory opening sequence that capitalizes on the theme of horror sequels, Craven raises the bar in the first fifteen minutes. The body count in Scream 4 is higher than any of the previous films, which is always the case in horror sequels, the very thing that Scream 4 is taking stabs at. The only place where the film falters is the ending; it seems to drag on just a bit.

Scream 4 is just as entertaining to watch as the first Scream was fifteen years ago.

Director: Wes Craven
Notable Cast: Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courteney Cox, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Rory Culkin
Writer(s): Kevin Williamson

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