Scream 4 tries a little bit to hard to reinvent genre which ends up making the movie feel convoluted and contrived, makes this installment seem like a remake of a classic 80’s slasher, average screenplay but what’s surprising amidst all of these negatives is it somehow manages to entertain and give a fair share of cheap thrills.
The movie is set this time in Woodsboro as Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) comes back to promote her new book (she became a pseudo celebrity because of her experiences from the previous movies) which happens to coincide with the anniversary of the original murders. And as expected high school students are making this unfortunate event from fifteen years ago as an excuse to party, get wasted and do a Stab-athon, a marathon of all the seven “Stab” movies. Sidney is welcomed with murders of two teenage girls done exactly the way it was years ago. Sheriff Dewey (David Arquette) happily married to Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) feels very obligated to solve the murders and prevent more killings while his sassy bitchy wife, suffering from writer’s block, starts snooping around and making her own investigations despite Dewey’s opposition of her endeavors. From here phone calls, stabbings, gutting continue until we are presented with the shocking twist and guessing who did it and why.
Scream 4 falters because of its indulgent self reference and self- parody that it makes the film more of a mockery than a self-homage to the elements which made the original unique and memorable just think eating pancakes with too much syrup or Caesar’s salad with too much cheese. It has become very obsessive and it is very evident all through out the movie. The execution was inconsistent as the script, which could have been better too. Even the new ground rules which basically means that there are no rules, anybody can be a killer without a motive, implication on how to do about remakes of classic slashers and technology like online streaming and social networking are important elements of the new set of guidelines, leaves the viewers apathetic. The movie within a movie within a movie angle is very old and so 90s. Even a hard-core fan like me, felt that less is definitely not more after viewing. Something was definitely lacking in here, like a firework without a spark! It does feel like watching a remake of a cult slasher movie from the 80’s and slightly over the top though this sequel subconsciously reiterates that this is a rather fresh take and an addition to a beloved movie influential in pop culture.
Among the actors, the original three actors from the trilogy are commendable and stands out from the rest of the newcomers composed mainly of young actors and actresses of the new decade, both established and up and coming. The three actors – Campbell, Arquette and Cox stay true to the characters they left behind a decade ago. Of the fresh faces, Emma Roberts is a cut above the rest and shows that she has potential and can indeed follow in her aunt’s footsteps one day. But I don’t think this will be the movie she will be remembered for but definitely this is the movie that showed her versatility. But she still has a long way to go and a long road to take and that means a whole lot of learning and maturing from teeny bopper roles. The rest of the fresh faces – Rory Culkin, Hayden Panettiere, Nico Tortorella, Alison Brie, Anthony Perkins, Adam Brody, Marley Shelton and the rest were competent enough. Though the twist was half predictable I still got some surge of adrenalin from the chasing and the killing scenes – which were more bloody and violent. The classic things I love that were revered in this movie were the celebrity cameos (Anna Paquin and Kristen Bell), Ghostface’s threatening phone calls and his live or die horror movie trivia.
Overall this sequel was a decade too late and with some of the ideas of the movie including the rules on remakes, Internet uploading of killings and the impact of social media might be a fresh start to begin a new franchise that is for the FaceBook generation. If this sequel was released way back early in the decade, this would have been much better. Instead the finish product is a weakly conceptualized follow-up that is stale and lacks originality from the humor to the horror. I don’t believe Wes Craven is losing his touch – but I think the Scream movies should have remained a trilogy for time immemorial and he could have started a possible new horror trilogy or franchise that will suit best for the new youth that is both refreshing and edgy.
Watch it: If you enjoy slasher films and a hard-core fan of the movies. Just don’t expect too much.
Don’t watch it: If slasher movies are not your cup of tea
5.5 out of 10 stars: Valiant effort but the cons outweigh the pros!