Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Scream 4 More of the Same

Scream 4

Fifteen years ago the duo of director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson single handedly saved the horror genre with their witty and self-referential film, Scream. Not only did the success of the film bring back the slasher genre to mainstream audiences, but it also led to the “Japanese horror remakes” and the “torture porn” eras of cinema. Now in its fourth incarnation, the Scream franchise not only takes shots at the horror films that came after the first three films, but also attempts to change and reinvigorate the slasher genre for a whole new audience.

Taking place ten years after the events of the third Scream film, Scream 4 finds our heroine, Sidney Presscott (Neve Campbell) returning to her hometown of Woodsboro where the original murders took place. Now a successful author, Sidney is hoping to turn a new page in her life. However it is only a matter of time before Sidney’s presence causes the infamous “Ghostface Killer” to reemerge. Soon Sidney, her cousin Jill (Emma Roberts), Sheriff Dewey (David Arquette), his former reporter wife Gale (Courteney Cox) and the rest of the Woodsboro locals find themselves in grave danger.

Scream 4 is constantly aware that it must raise the bar and defy the audience’s expectations in order for it to be successful. Characters refer to how the rules have changed and everything will be bigger and more unpredictable. Yet for all its boasting, Scream 4 feels anything but daring. While it is nice to see Ghostface running wild again, there is not much in the film that has not been covered to death in the previous three films.

The major problem with Scream 4 is that it too focused on living in the past. A large portion of the film is essentially a reboot of the original film. The big difference is that the film features a new crop of young actors on the cusp of bigger things (e.g. Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Rory Culkin, Alison Brie, Erik Knudsen). Unfortunately the new cast of characters must fight for screen time as Williamson’s script spends the bulk of its time following the classic characters such as Sidney, Dewey, and Gale.

The inability to break away from the three alumni characters is what hurts the film. When the film reaches the point where the killer is revealed it feels very anticlimactic. While the reasoning behind the killers motivations are sound, the audience really does not get to know the killer all that well leading up to the final act. As a result the film feels hollow and rather forced.

If the film was actually willing to take the risk that it often boasts about taking, Scream 4 might have rivaled the first two Scream films. Yet at its best, Scream 4 is an improvement on Scream 3, but still nothing more than a shallow, and timid, copy of the original film.


  1. I haven't heard good things about SCREAM 4, hence why I will wait until it's available to rent. I wasn't really a fan of SCREAM, so I'm not expecting to be amused...

  2. @Rachel – I really liked Scream, it is definitely up there in regards to my favourite horror films. Scream 2 was good as well, but Scream 3 was simply awful.

  3. Good review! I saw it myself, and wrote one up. It’s not quite as good as the first, but it ain’t no slouch either. I’ve had the good fortune (or misfortune, depending on how I’m feeling) of seeing all of em’ and let me tell ya. This is easily the best of the sequels. I did think it was too funny. Like, that scene where the killer goes all medieval on his/her own ass in the end was HYSTERICAL!!! The scares were good too.

  4. Great review. Sounds like it's just as I suspected it would be.

  5. @Dan O - I still say Scream 2 is far better than Scream 4. Though, I did love the evidence planting scene in this film. I agree that it was the funniest part of the film.

    @Ricky - I would say the film is a solid rental.

  6. The best thing that came out of this movie are Hayden Panettiere and to a lesser extent, Emma Roberts. And that Courteney Cox is a better actress when she's older and tougher than she was when the first three movies came out.

  7. @Paolo - Hayden Panettiere really surprised me in this film. It is the first time since Heroes where she actually showed a little range as an actress. Roberts was alright, but her best moments come in the last act.

  8. I guess nothing beats the original Scream (the first one). Sequels often just a way of making more money. It's okay if they take big effort to make the movie worth the watch.

    I don't know if you've seen my latest post in blogger, I just want to tell you that I moved my site to www.inspired-ground.com , have a great day :)

  9. @Andina - True sequels are often nothing more than studio cash grabs. Scream 2 was better than most sequels, but I would not have been upset had it never been made.

    Thanks for the update on your site, I will be sure to check it out.


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