Anyone who, like me, has fond memories of the original Scream movie (1996), may have mixed feelings about the upcoming release of the latest in the line, Scream 4. I still remember my first viewing of Scream, way back when it first graced our screens. For many of the new generation of teens, it opened up the horror genre in a way we hadn’t experienced before. My generation of teens hadn’t had our own horror franchise. We were too young for Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween and Friday the 13th. Scream was our first venture into proper horror.
By today’s standards it might not seem like much – the opening scene is perfect, Draw Barrymore’s slow descent into misery is a priceless piece of acting. But the gore factor is low, as it was in the nineties, and any viewers who hadn’t seen it in its original setting might be disappointed with its lack of killer lust. But back then, we loved it. That makes me wonder – will Scream 4 follow a similar path of horror remakes? Will it see a similar fate as the most recent remakes of the aforementioned Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween and Friday the 13th? Those films took a corny original and transported it into a world of gore, taking us deeper into the killer’s world than ever before. Perhaps that was the point, but it’s more likely that they felt the need to compete with recent torture flicks The Descent, the Saw Franchise and even mutant flicks like The Hills Have Eyes. The problem here is that the movie loses its original thrill, in order to gain some cheap scares from the edgy audience.
Scream tells the story of a group of high school teens stalked by a masked killer. The first attack, that fantastic opening scene, sees two deaths in one night, and opens up a horrid past for Sidney Prescot (Neve Cambell), whose mother was killed in a similar incident a year before. We can kind of tell what’s going to happen – Sidney’s fathers away the weekend, we can tell she’s going to be the focus of the movie, and with her mother’s past we can see why the killer might be attracted to her. Unlike the horror flicks that came before it, we don’t know who the killer is. In Nightmare, Halloween and Friday the 13th we knew from the start who it was, even if they wore a mask. With Scream, we’re unaware of the killer’s identity until the final scenes, but we’re kept guessing throughout.
Perhaps the best character in the movie is the brutally ruthless news reporter Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox). Cox steal every scene she is in as she slowly becomes more involved in the teens lives in hopes of getting the story. It’s great that she survives, and she will be appearing in the new movie, alongside David Arquette, who plays Deputy Sherriff Dewey Riley. The two weave into the story well, adding an adult identity to the teen cast. When the movie culminates in a slash-tastic party, Weathers and Riley become involved in the murders on another level, falling victim to the killer’s taunts. The party lays the foundations for a great finale that keeps you guessing throughout. Compared to today’s standards it may not be as gory, but the slash scenes are still strong, made so by their choreography and believability, rather than the more modern “buckets of blood” approach. We can only hope that upcoming Scream 4 will follow in the originals footsteps, rather than falling at Hollywood’s blood soaked feet. Four stars.