Hey, what’s up guys? You can’t answer me because this is a blog. Anyways, I made a promise in the latest TWiG episode about the Tron franchise that I would do a review of Scream 4, so here it is, all for you to enjoy! I know it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these blogs, so I guess it’s kind of nice to be back where I belong.
First off, I should mention that I saw this movie with the worst audience ever. I left angry, not because of the movie, but because of those watching it. Seriously, kids need to learn how to watch movies without texting every ten seconds. Also, about 20 minutes in I had to switch seats because the guy in front of me kept saying the word “tits” for no reason and burping loudly, burps that floated backwards to me and almost made me throw up. I hate this kid and if I ever see him again in public, I will likely murder him. I have the perfect alibi too. Once the judge finds out he was talking during a movie, it’ll be thrown out as “self-defence”. Anyways, speaking of murders with perfect alibis, let’s talk a little about Scream, shall we?
The Scream franchise began in 1996 when horror patriarch and director of such classics and A Nightmare on Elm Street and The Hills Have Eyes, Wes Craven, decided that the horror genre was floundering and needed a bit of a booster, so he shot a film based on a very witty and self-referential script by Kevin Williamson (who also wrote this film and is currently working on a fifth instalment) and that film was called Scream. What Scream did was both revolutionary and not. At a time when horror movies were starting to take themselves too seriously it took the genre back to its roots to remind people of the very basic “rules” of surviving a horror movie as the characters find themselves trapped in what is essentially a real-life slasher film and discover that keeping these rules is their only chance for survival. At the same time, Scream presented its premise as being firmly grounded in the “real” world. It was this juxtaposition between something real and something almost cartoon-like that made Scream so funny and scary at the same time and made it one of the biggest films of the decade. To this day it is considered one of the most important horror films not just of the 1990’s, but of all time.
Scream 2 would basically do what Scream did, but it’s witty commentary was about horror sequels and the rules therein and then Scream 3 rounded things off by making fun of horror trilogies, of which there are exactly none, because they always end up making a fourth film. Speaking of which, I’m supposed to be talking about Scream 4, aren’t I? OK, so we had horror movies, horror movie sequels, horror movie trilogies, what’s left? Well, Scream 4 did something rather ingenious and unexpected by taking all of its shots at the recent surge of horror movie remakes in what is yet another horror dry-spell for Hollywood. Craven used what could have been an unnecessary sequel and allowed it to parody horror movies while furthering their significance, much like in the first film. The question though is does it really work?
The answer, for the most part, is yes. Scream 4, in my opinion, worked better than the second and third films because it basically did what the first movie did and was just as clever and actually did manage to shock and surprise. The fault of the second and third instalments is that they started trying a bit too hard and things actually got a little too serious. The tongue was slowly being removed from the cheek and here it’s right back where it belongs. Part of the reason was the return of writer Kevin Williamson who was absent for the third instalment. Also returning was Courtney Cox’s hair actually looking kind of nice, also absent in the third instalment.
Now, Scream 4 is far from being amazing. I think one of its greatest strengths is also its greatest weakness and that’s the “remake” premise. The new characters are all set to replace Sydney, Gale and Dewey as a new cast of victims/ survivors, but placing Sydney, Gale and Dewey amongst them can be awkward at time. It’s like Coldplay trying to do a concert with Radiohead without acknowledging that Radiohead did the same thing ten years ago, only better. It also means that Sydney is barely in the film and also very undeveloped. Instead, the film focuses more on her “replacement”, her cousin Jill (played by Emma Roberts, who I bet you didn’t know was Eric Roberts’ daughter). Now I will say that I did like this new cast. Williamson is the creator of Dawson’s creek and has proved over and over his prowess in capturing the voice of the youth of America. The problem is that Sydney is shoved aside and relegated to screaming and kicking people in the face, something she seems all too good at. Still, old vs. new was the central theme of the film, so bringing back the old characters was necessary. I just wish they had done a little bit more with them. It’s like having that aforementioned concert, but with Radiohead as the opening act.
Scream 4 opens with a scene of characters that have nothing to do with the rest of the film, a Scream tradition, only this time with an interesting twist. The characters are actually watching a copy of Stab 7, which contains characters watching a copy of Stab 6, which causes one of the girls to question the other as to the plausibility of the Stab films existing within their own universe. This film within a film within a film is a clever nod to Screams invention of the now all-too-popular insurgence of meta writing in Hollywood. It’s also confusing as hell and hilarious. After this initial blood-bath, we later find out that it’s the tenth anniversary of the original Woodsboro murders and that Woodsboro is the last stop on Sydney Prescott’s (Neve Campbell) press tour for her new self-help book based on her experiences surviving three murder sprees. She meets up with Dewey Riley (David Arquette) who is now the town’s Sherriff and Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) who has fallen into a slump after quitting her reporting career and attempting a full-time writing career that’s going nowhere. The subplot of their floundering marriage is never really taken as far as I hoped it would be, but that’s a side note. Pretty soon, once again, people start dying in a way that resembles the events of the first film (and with it the first “Stab” movie) in what the killer sees as a remake of the original massacre. The big difference this time is that it’s the new millennium and all the murders are caught on digital cameras. Also, being a new era means new rules and the characters find themselves frantically trying to learn how to survive much like in the original film. A joke is even made about how being gay ups your chances of survival nowadays. Once again, Sydney, along with the town’s youth, is on the run from yet another masked psycho as we, the audience are left to wonder who is really behind the mask. Don’t worry, I won’t give it away, but I was actually pleasantly surprised by the outcome.
Scream 4 may be a little unnecessary and may not be a perfect movie, but I was pleasantly surprised by it. The pacing was a million times better than the second and third instalments and arguably, the story as well and setting it back in Woodsboro was a nice touch too. It sort of brought things full circle for the franchise, which was nice. Not to mention, it was still funny, the scares still worked for the most part and it’s a film with surprises around every corner. Overall I’d say that Scream 4 was a worthy addition to the franchise and probably the second best film of the series next to the first one, but let’s face it, you’ll never top the first one, especially with a fifth movie, which to be honest just feels a little unnecessary. Also, the addition of newcomers Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Rory Culkin, Erik Knudson and Alison Brie was very welcome. I was so excited when I saw Alison as Sydney’s agent, I almost shouted “Annie!” at the screen, because I’m lame like that.
I give Scream 4 a 3.5/5 (pretty darn good).
Well, that’s about it for my ramblings, stay tuned to This Week in Geek for more blogs, more episodes of Double D Does the Movies and more commentaries. This month we’re doing a bunch of Disney cult classics, which I am so excited about! Keep it locked and loaded guys.