Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Scream 4 (2011): It's Finally a Scream Again, Baby!

The fourth installment finds Scream trilogy survivor Sidney Prescott back in Ghostface's crosshairs along with her young cousin. And this new killer is using a new set of "rules" to rack up the body count.

After viewing the somewhat eye-rolling Scream 2 and the awful Scream 3 Bck when they originally ran in theaters, the announcement of Scream 4 did not really generate any major excitement for this reviewer. However, the heavy influx of praise throughout the world of blogging sparked enough interest to not wait around for DVD to check it out. The original Scream is one of this site's top horror films of all-time, so with Wes Craven back in the directing chair and Kevin Williamson penning the script, would this installment rejuvenate the franchise and be a success? Or would this fourth installment go the way of Jaws The Revenge by damaging the franchise's integrity and cause future plans for Scream-ages to go belly up?

Neve Campbell returns in the lead as trilogy heroine Sidney Prescott at the tail end of her book tour, who revisits the same town in which events of the original took place. Meanwhile, Dewey (David Arquette) is the town’s sheriff, Gail Weathers (Courtney Cox-Arquette) career as an author has hit some still water and most importantly, the Ghostface murders have begun once again. This time, ol’ Ghostface is targeting Sidney’s cousin Jill (Emma Roberts) and all of her friends, including Kirby played by Hayden Penettiere, who is trying to make everyone forget her horrible and long-haired cheerleader persona Claire from Heroes, as Kirby. Yes Kirby as in General Kirby from Commando, Kirby as in MLB legend Kirby Puckett and Kirby as in the lead character of the old video game Kirby’s Dream Land.

Back to the film, Gail sees these murders as the perfect inspiration for a new book. After Dewey and his deputy Judy Hicks (Planet Terror’s Marley Shelton) give her the snub, Gail even goes as far as teaming up with the heads of the local high school’s film club to get into the action. Essentially, she forms a unit with this generation’s Randy, but this “Randy” is a two-headed monster in the form of Robbie (Erik Knudsen) and Charlie (Rory Culkin). These two film geeks deduct that this new killer is following new “remake” rules, which is appropriate since this installment is a very much a remake as it is a sequel, and the killer’s use of video to record the kills.

A funny running joke is the never ending installments of the Stab films shown and discussed throughout this flick. If you remember, Stab is the in-movie film that was made based off the events of the first film. Now the sequels have reached all the way to Stab 7, with a completely ridiculous and confusing plot. This device is used to take shots at mindless horror sequels, cough-cough Saw, and serve up a large amount of cameos. 

Now is the perfect time to mention that Scream 4 is filled with more celebrity cameos than a Cannonball Run film, albeit for the younger generation. Here’s a quick list: Kristen Bell, Anna Paquin, Aimee Teegarden, Lucy Hale, Nancy O’Dell, Alison Brie, Mary McDonnell. Anthony Anderson, Adam Brody, and Heather Graham…sort of. There are probably more appearances, but you get the point.

Does Scream 4 redefine the genre or set the world on fire with new groundbreaking territory? No. Absolutely not and if you are looking for that, you are barking up the wrong tree. Essentially, this film is nothing more than a nice trip down memory lane for old Scream fans to enjoy as well as those who appreciate an old fashioned "whodunit" slasher flick – something the film world has sadly been missing for a long time. It is best to set your phasers to stun and just be prepared to watch nothing more than a Scream installment. Enjoy lots of blood-n-guts, high volume of murders with a bit of comedy for good measure, in a newer version of  Scream's style. It’s like watching Friday the 13th sequels. We watch these to see Jason go on massive slaughters, not move us to tears with a dramatic monologue. Although that might be interesting to indulge.

This time around, the killer’s main motive is to top the original Stab, which mirrors the real life dynamic of recent remakes trying to overshadow their originals. It is a theme that works perfectly for this film since Scream 4 is attempting to return the franchise back to the glory days of the original. Now considering that this new killer is supposed to use updated technologies to outdo the previous killers, the webcasting was well integrated but it was odd that social networking played little to no relevance in this movie.

Some side notes to keep in mind is that there are references to the previous films, but none more than to the 1996 original. So make sure to at least see the first one if you haven’t yet before you jump headfirst into part 4. You definitely won’t appreciate it as much. Also, the real life drama between Courtney Cox and David Arquette was a bit distracting, considering recent events revolving around their separation, so you just have to turn off reality for a couple hours. Finally, here’s to hoping that we get to see Marielle Jaffe, who plays Jill’s friend Olivia, in more roles. She is a real beauty for the male population to gaze at.

Just like the predecessors, there are many suspects and clues throughout the film to help you guess the killer, both good and misleading hints, and a large body count. More importantly, the ending of Scream 4 contains the best killer reveal since Billy and Stu in kitchen of the original. And further to its benefit, this reveal is one that actually makes sense, with a punchline also worthy of a hearty laugh! That being said, while it was enjoyable, this reviewer is not drooling or frantically anticipating another sequel. In fact, any future Scream films will begin to potentially ride the thin line of becoming a franchise like Saw, which was mocked in this film as mentioned above.

But for right now, this is one to enjoy in a crowded theater full of enthusiastic moviegoers, so make sure to catch this one before it's gone.


3 out of 5 Ghostfaces

Cool review links:


Drunketh said...

Nice review! Spot on.

Erik said...

Good review,I enjoyed it as well,I like it more than 3 and even a little more than 2.I love that it was back in Woodsboro as well.AND I love MARIELLE JAFFE TOO!!Good call there,I posed some bikini pics of her just the other day :0)

Geof said...

Drunketh and Erik - thanks guys. Jaffe is a hottie.

iZombie said...

gar, i wanted to see this... great solid on the review. i missed my window, i think i will wait for the blu-ray of all of the films together.

Fred [The Wolf] said...

I'm glad I was one of those who made you want to see this before DVD release. It is what it is and does it well. Unfortunately a lot of fans didn't dig that and the box office bombed because of that bad word of mouth. I'm actually kind of glad in a way because at least [for that reason alone] the franchise will end here. Unless one of the major characters dons the Ghostface persona, there's no reason to even discuss another sequel.

I loved the punchline at the end, but I still think the film should have ended 10 minutes sooner for a very interesting potential sequel if it's ever to be made. I will agree that Jaffe was very hot and wished she were in it more.

Great review and a very fair score.

lina3 said...


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