This Day in Horror

22 April 2011

Scream 4 2011 - REVIEW


It goes without saying that the Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson changed the face of horror in the 90's. Gone were the traditional slashers like Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers. It was a new era with new rules and Craven and Williamson used those rules to re-invent the horror experience. Together they entertained and shocked us with films that spanned the tail end of the 90's. Scream 3, considered by most fans to be the black sheep of the franchise, introduced us to writer Ehren Kruger who lacked Williamson's talent for blending horror and humor but still delivered a good story (IMO). I may catch some shit for that but as usual, I don't care. So, now that we're all caught up, let's take a look at the newest installment.

Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), now the author of a self-help book, returns home to Woodsboro on the last stop of her book tour. There she reconnects with Sheriff Dewey (David Arquette) and Gale (Courtney Cox), who are now married, as well as her cousin Jill (Emma Roberts) and her Aunt Kate (Mary McDonnell). Unfortunately, Sidney's appearance also brings about the return of Ghostface, putting Sidney, Gale, and Dewey, along with Jill, her friends, and the whole town of Woodsboro in danger.

The opening sequence of every Scream has always had a "big name" celeb(s) that's tormented by a Ghostface phone call then ends up getting slaughtered in some form or another. Scream 4 seems to be the latest horror film to fall victim to the WB/ABC Family casting craze. Unless you watch shows like Pretty Little Liars, 90210 or Gossip Girls it's likely that the only recognizable face for you will be that of Anna Paquin (True Blood). Does this pose a problem... I guess not but it does go to show that most horror films are being geared toward teenagers these days. Scream 4 also reunites franchise veterans Neve Campbell, David Arquette and Courtney Cox who are without a doubt, the glue that holds these films together. Unless every "hero" in a horror film is killed off, it makes no sense to me to try and replace them with someone else but I'll save that argument for a different blog. That said, the film is very well acted and the only problem I saw chemistry wise was between Arquette and Cox. I'm certain it has something to do with their impending divorce BUT they definitely didn't gel like usual. Plus they're married in this one so the love/hate relationship that brings so much to the previous films wasn't there. Culkin's character was the horror film buff in this installment and he was convincing at it. On the other side of the spectrum, I wasn't convinced that Panettiere's character was a horror lover. Yes, it's possible for a preppy teenage girl to love horror films but the fact that she could match wits with the geeky cinema club dude was a stretch for me.

Story wise, it's the same 'ole Scream. Ghostface stabs this one and then stabs that one and oh yeah, he/she stabs the other one too. Some viewers had a problem with the constant slice and dice but for me it's just the way of Ghostface and I didn't mind it at all. The cops are just as inept, if not more so, as they were in the first one. I don't know if Williamson wrote them that way or if it was Kruger's rewrite that did it but it was overkill in a major way. I enjoyed Sidney's new found empowerment. I liked that she was no longer the "victim" and was prepared at every turn to face her fear or conquer her demons, however you wanna say it. Her character was given a maturity that she didn't have before and it worked well. What I didn't like was the constant horror film references. Williamson always managed to write in a mention or two and again, I can't say if it was his doing or Kruger's, but overboard would be an accurate description. There was very clever and well written dialogue and it seemed as if the magic of the first one was back. At least until the second half. Everyone knows there was switch up with the writers and it was like Williamson wrote the first half and then Kruger came in and butchered the second half. Not sure who wrote what but the wit was there one minute and gone the next.

The motive for all this murder and mayhem was pretty clever, I thought, and if you stop and think about it, it makes sense. Now, can I say that I approve of the motive but I don't approve of the reveal? They kinda go hand in hand don't they? It's definitely a slippery slope. As everyone is getting killed, Ghostface towers over them but when it's revealed who the killer is, this person is 5'6" at best. It's inconsistent to say the least. The last 15 minutes or so could've been done away with leaving the audience with one hell of a cliff hanger. But alas, we're forced to watch a showdown that is predictable and forced. HOWEVER, it does give us the best line of the film and I'd love to give it to you but I'm not. You'll know it when you hear it.

Overall, I found Scream 4 enjoyable. Hell, I saw it twice... ok, I fell asleep the second time but I was tired! It's entertaining and if you're a Scream fan, you'll definitely like it. Despite it's flaws, it's a good addition to the franchise and a much, much, much better film than Craven's disasterous My Soul to Take. I'm curious if this is the final installment or just the first in a series of reboots. Only time will tell.

5 comments:

  1. I am glad I saw it. It just seemed like it was missing something.

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  2. Nice review! I'm with you on where it should have ended, that would have been an awesome cliff hanger and a nice twist on the Final Girl notion.
    I'm curious if this is the start of more Scream films. I was under the impression that this movie was supposed to act as a handing the torch over the a new generation type of thing - so the extended ending suprised me. Not sure where the sequels could take it now without it being yet more of the same.

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  3. I disagree with you on the part about Kirby... I have no problem seeing her as a horror buff. I don't think she was preppy at all; she was a boozy kid left on her own a lot who had a shelf full of Argento movies. I like that she was interesting and multi-dimensional. If they'd made her all gothy looking and weird, she would've fallen right into a cliche of 'weird girl who likes horror movies'.

    I felt like the whole movie was overkill. Everything was so over the top that it stopped being enjoyable for me about 5 minutes in. Characters that could've been really cool, red herrings that could've kept us guessing until the end, etc were either reduced to cliches or killed off before we had a chance to realize their potential.

    Craven should've let it end with 3, that made it a nice round number and finished up the franchise.

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  4. You are the first person that I have read a Scre4m review that admitted they liked part 3. Even though I didn't like it, I applaud you for letting everyone know where you stand. You are right about movies being geared for teens these days. It just ruins the movies, and the experience most of the time. The opening scene of the movie was one of the better parts of the movie. The acting was ok, not great. I liked how brutal Ghostface was with all the slicing and dicing. It just didn't match up with who the killer was, and like you said, neither does the killer's height. I narrowed down the possibilities of the killer so it wasn't a shock to me, which was disappointing. The ending was way over done. You are not the first person to say they loved that line at the end. It was good, but the movie should have ended before that. Overall, it was too much humor for me. Great review!

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  5. Good review- this gets me even more in the mood to see it. I'm not a fan of franchise sequels in general, but enough time has gone by with this one that Scream 4 has sort of re-kindled my interest (like most other folks back in '96, the first Scream was the freshest thing I'd seen in years).

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