Ladies and gentlemen we have another Scream film on our hands. Scream 4 is directed by Wes Craven, the same director as the previous three Scream films. It has been eleven years since the last Scream film was released. Will Scream 4 add anything new or inventive to the franchise?
Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) returns to her home town of Woodsboro on a book tour. Since she has been able to survive three massacres she found fame in detailing her life into a book. Prescott is returning to promote her book and she receives a hero’s welcome from the townspeople. The other two survivors are also still present, Sheriff “Dewey” (David Arquette), and Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox). Sidney’s arrival also overlaps the anniversary of the previous killing spree. In the midst of her return a new killer has arrived who is targeting Sidney and her two companions but also her cousin Jill (Emma Roberts). Can Sidney cheat death a fourth time and save herself and her cousin from the new killer?
The opening scene of the movie is clever and fans of the Scream franchise will more than likely admire the new twist that is added. The film makes clever use of it being self aware that it is not just a movie but a horror movie as well (preferred term for movie buffs is Meta). The film contains several clever references, the funniest one being Shaun of the Dead. Since the movie is self aware it contains inside references in the dialogue that are both funny and unique. For example the line of “Let’s watch Saw 4” followed by “no it’s just pointless torture porn with no character development.”
The final act of the film is strong and provides an ending that even experts in horror will not see coming. What also adds to the strength of the final act is chaos breaks out that is both entertaining for the audience and satisfying as well. Furthermore, the strongest point of this movie is it critiques the idea of people wanting to become famous, especially overnight. I cannot say anymore with regards to this without spoiling anything but the way the film introduces it and explains is intelligent and distinctive.
Sometimes I feel like a broken record when I review horror films because the one aspect of them that I just cannot stand is the usage of jump scares. When anyone goes to a horror film whether it is a slasher film or a spoof horror film like this, jump scares are inevitable. I have no problem with jump scares but only when they are used to enhance the scene at which they are in. Every kill in this movie contains a jump scare. Moreover, I would not go as far to say that the performances are bad but it does seem like each character in the film knows that they are in a spoof horror film and they are not taking it seriously.
One of the reoccurring weaknesses of the Scream franchise has been the kills on a whole are lame and dull. With this film that problem was not addressed. With the exception of one kill in which the audience is able to see someone cut open in a way in which has not been seen often, every other kill is the stereotypical stab in the chest followed by immediate death.Some of these characters are also annoying and dumb. One scene in this film that irritated me was there is a kill in a parking garage but the main character sees the killer when she is in her car, than she proceeds to get out of the car. Once she gets out of the car well what happens next is obvious.
Overall the film is not bad but it really does not do enough new things for me to tell you to rush out to see it in theatres. Fans of the franchise might find themselves board but on the other hand maybe not. It is worth mentioning that Scream 4 is much better than Scream 3 but not as good as the first two. This film is close for me but I am choosing not to recommend it because its biggest weaknesses of too many jump scares, unsatisfying kills, and lacking performances overshadow what is good about the film. If you have to see it just watch it online, no need to hurry out and see it.