Horror movies just got fun again…
Cast: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere & Rory Culkin
Directed by: Wes Craven
Screenplay by: Kevin Williamson
On the fifteenth anniversary of the original Woodsboro killings, survivor Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) returns home to promote her new book. Her return prompts the return of the Ghostface killer who targets a new generation of teens attending the same high-school Sidney did.
If director Wes Craven had pitched his latest entry in the Scream franchise as the funniest one yet, he wouldn’t have been far off summing up Scream 4. The laugh ratio undeniably outdoes the scare ratio this time around. Just look at the opening sequence that comes complete with double bluffs, multiple murders, characters bitching about horror movie cliché’s and ironic cameos from Anna Paquin and Kristen Bell. It’s a killer of an opening that has so much fun playing around with the Scream formula; it’s like watching the perfect start of a genuinely decent spoof. Furthermore, the cops – including David Arquette’s now Sherriff Dewey – spend most of their screen time acting like they are in Scary Movie 5 rather than Scream 4.
And yet despite Kevin Williamson’s script at times veering dangerously close to total self-parody, Scream 4 is effortlessly entertaining with all the returning cast members clearly in tune with the more playful tone this time out. It’s also for the most part still just as clever and self-knowing as its predecessors, seeing as eleven years have now passed since Scream 3 slashed its way into cinemas, there is plenty of material for Craven and co. to put the knife into. Ghostface is now using Facebook and also filming his murders and uploading them to the web. And we have a new generation of knowing teens to discuss the current state of the horror genre and the new rules Ghostface will abide by for a reboot scenario. “You do a remake to outdo the original” says one character after realizing Ghostface has considerably upped the ante.
The film referencing is plentiful ranging from absurd (a character reels off a list of every horror remake to date) to scathing (characters trashing the torture porn sub-genre) and the obvious (lots and lots of vintage movie posters). Most of this comes from the fresh young cast who are represented particularly well by Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere and Rory Culkin.
Trying to figure out who the killer is has always been one of the strongest aspects of the Scream franchise and that is the case once again with every character a possible suspect. The eventual final reveal is a decent and surprising one.
Apart from a tension-laced sequenced in which two characters witness the brutal murder of their friend from an opposite window, Scream 4 is rarely terrifying and by this fourth entry, Ghostface has naturally lost some of his edge. But let’s not forget that the Ghostface character, now with one classic film and three very respectable sequels to his name, has been served very well compared to the slasher characters that inspired his creation.
Wes Craven’s Scream 4 is living proof that if it aint broke, don’t fix it. Sure it’s far from perfect but Scream 4 sticks to a formula that works and is all the more enjoyable because of it. “What’s your favorite Scary Movie?” Well it probably won’t be Scream 4 but this is a healthy reminder that it might be the original Scream…