Movie Review - Scream 4 (***1/2)


SCREAM 4.  103 mins.  R.  Directed by Wes Craven.  Written by Kevin Williamson.

All things considered, Scream 4 (or, if you want to buy into all the stupid marketing, Scre4m) does a pretty good job as the fourth film in a franchise dating back to 1996 of keeping things fresh, fun, and entertaining.  It's been 11 years since Scream 3 came out, and the series shows no signs of being worse for the wear.  All the necessary parties are in play: writer Kevin Williamson, director Wes Craven, and the trio of surviving stars: Neve Campbell, David Arquette, and Courtney Cox.  Fans of the Scream movies are probably going to have a blast watching these characters battle Ghostface again.  But if you haven't cared about Scream before, you're not going to start now.

One of the great things about Scream 4 is the amount of time that has elapsed since the last film.  I'm a big fan of sequels that are made a decade later.  Movies like Before Sunset, Clerks II, and Toy Story 3 have all benefitted from the time off - it allows the filmmakers greater perspective, and gives the audience a chance to reflect on all that's come before.  That being said, Scream 4 doesn't really have any lofty ambitions in mind.  We don't really get to know Sidney, Dewey, or Gail Weathers any better than we did the last time out, but it sure is fun to see their familiar faces again.
This time around, Sidney returns to Woodsboro, having just written a memoir called "Out of Darkness."  As fate would have it, Sidney's arrival falls on the anniversary of the events from the original film, and soon enough, the killings start piling up as it becomes clear that Ghostface is at it again.  In addition to the returning characters, Scream 4 presents a brand new set of high schoolers to serve up as fresh meat, including Sidney's niece (Emma Roberts), her best friend (Hayden Panettiere), and a film club geek (Kieran Culkin).
The new cast members may not make much of a lasting impression, but I must admit it was a kick to see so many recognizable faces in every scene.  It's like a who's who of television show cast-offs.  Hey - that's True Blood's Anna Paquin!  Veronica Mars' Kristen Bell!  Law & Order's Anthony Anderson!  The O.C.'s Adam Brody!  Friday Night Lights' Aimee Teegarden!  90210's Shenae Grimes!  Community's Alison Brie! Plus many more. 
Williamson's script is consistently funny and clever.  There's a great opening sequence (always a highlight in the Scream series) that's beyond meta and actually operates as three opening sequences in one.  The dialogue is spiked with some nice riffs on the nature of reboots, remakes, and the current state of horror movies, culminating in a hugely crowd-pleasing line that Sidney delivers at the end of the movie.  Like the other Scream movies, the identity of the killer(s) is a big mystery, with red herrings galore.  But Williamson plays his cards just right - and the reveal in Scream 4 is both surprising (it goes directly against your preconceived expectations) and thematically complete.  
In the end, I liked Scream 4 because, well, I like the Scream movies.  I don't find them all that scary - though they certainly have their fair share of suspense.  To me, they play more like an extremely witty, self-referential murder mystery, albeit with ample amounts of gore and stabbings.  Sign me up for Part 5.

Filed under: Movies, Reviews

Tags: film, movies, reviews, Scream 4


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  • totally agree... Scream 4 rocked... don't understand why it's getting mixed reviews... people hate just to hate... apparently they don't like to have fun at the theatre... the Scream movies are a blast to see in a packed house

  • It was fine. I don't think the ending was that big of a suprise because that is what Scream has always done. The opening sequence was great. Overall not a bad movie. Did the job as the franchise has done before.

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