SCREAM 4: Movie Review

Scream 4

Review by Michael Pickle,

Over ten years have passed since the original Scream Trilogy took the Horror world by storm and changed the face of Slasher films forever. In those ten years, however, Scream has become exactly what it satirized. A subject of ridicule for a lot of hardcore Horror fans. There have been so many lackluster clones that many blame the Scream franchise for spawning a whole new generation of vapid, soul-less, cookie-cutter teen slasher films that dominate the Horror genre. Lest we forget; the Scream trilogy was a cut above the rest. What

Director Wes Craven and Writer Kevin Williamson did back then was ground-breaking. Now many of the themes have been used up and we tend to forget just how great they were. Sadly, Scream 4 hasn't done much to change that. The Scream films always seemed to know how jaded horror fans are and hungry for something new. There are some minor tweaks here with a handful of really cool kill scenes, but it's the same formula. Scream 4 is for Scream fans and, while it is enjoyable, it's not likely to recruit any new ones.

If there is one thing you can count on when watching a new Scream film it's a kick-ass opening sequence. Not true here. Spray-tan bimbos and unimpressive star cameos are paraded on to the screen in a movie within a movie format that I grew tired of quickly and couldn't wait for the main title to come up and the real movie to get started. I was in on the joke. It just wasn't that funny.

Finally we catch up with our old friends. Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) returns to Woodsboro on the 15th anniversary of the original murders on a book tour to promote her new book. Meanwhile; Dewey (David Arquette) is now the Sheriff and married to Gale (Courtney Cox) who has writer's block from being stuck in the now uneventful small town. This soon changes when Ghostface starts killing again and Sidney is forced to stay in town when evidence is found in her car. Sidney stays with her Aunt and her cousin Jill (Emma Roberts). Jill and her friends Kirby (Hayden Panettiere) and the new resident Horror movie experts Robbie (Erik Knudsen) and Charlie (Rory Culkin) teach the seasoned veterans the new rules for surviving a Horror movie.

The opening sequence may have been lacking, but while the third act stutters a little at first; it redeems itself and has a strong ending after the killer is revealed.

The formula was there to make a great sequel. Ten years of new Horror movie cliches like Torture Porn and Remakes to poke fun at. Endearing characters already in place. A talented and beautiful young supporting cast. Why then do they decide to go with the same old tired formula? Torture Porn and Remakes are touched upon, then passed right over.

There are some great fights between Sidney and Ghostface, but there were always good fights between Sidney and Ghostface. Dewey is charming and fun, but it's the same Dewey going through the same motions. Gale conducts a compelling investigation, but she always does that and this time she does it in almost the same way as she did in the original.

I must say though; some of the younger cast were pretty good and well chosen for the most part. While underused through most of the film; Emma Roberts is superb. Almost as great as Hayden Panettiere who stole the show. She was perfect for what this film could have been because she's a natural and highly watchable actress with a strong presence. Sadly, some of the other new cast members weren't as magnetic. Erik Knudsen's Robbie was such a cheap knock-off of Jamie Kennedy's original movie geek that he sucked the energy out of every scene he was in. He was not Jamie Kennedy and I wanted him to stop trying to be. Luckily his partner Charlie, played by Rory Culkin, did a little better at being his own character, but not enough to keep me from missing the magic of the original cast. Especially since we are reminded so much of them by revisiting many of the same elements.

Probably the most annoying thing about this film is the fact that all the characters, even the three returning leads, fell into the exact Horror cliches they have always made fun of. Dewey is always half way across town when the killings take place and shows up after everyone is already dead. People leave doors unlocked in the wake of multiple murders and even walk around outside alone when the killer is known to be in the area. Illogical chains of events are set into motion just to get the younger characters together for clever horror movie banter and to state more "rules". Even the great Sidney, whom we've seen fight and claw her way through every Scream film while staying one step ahead of Ghostface, just stands there without putting up a fight and allows herself to be attacked. One of the most disappointing things in the film for me. Seeing a smart fighter like Sid stand there and take a stabbing just so we can let the killer explain their motives and clever tricks to throw people off.

The fact that the film follows pretty much the same formula is part of the premise. I get it. They're mocking remakes by re-imagining many of the things covered in the original film, but it just comes off as trying too hard to recapture the magic.

The film is good because it's already been done once. The only way to recapture that magic is to be just as groundbreaking as the original. Scream 4 is pretty good and definitely has a few really cool scenes, but after 10 years I wanted my head to explode from the sheer awesomeness. If you're making fun of yourself and all other Horror movies you better make sure you astound. If you call so much attention to yourself like this you have to be better than everyone else. Your characters better be smarter or at least more believable than every other character in Horror. You better come up with something so new and fresh that it knocks our socks on our ass! But alas; Scream 4 is more easily mock-able than the films it mocks.

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