Reviews

Scream 4

3

If you go down to Woodsboro today…

Scream 4 review

It’s been eleven years since Scream 3 temporarily brought Wes Craven’s film-savvy slasher franchise to a close.

In that time, we’ve had two Hostels, four Final Destinations and seven Saws, not to mention a batch of old school horror remakes, including Craven’s own The Hills Have Eyes and The Last House On The Left.

Ample fodder then for he and creator Kevin Williamson to get their teeth – or should that be blade? – into.

The opening is pure Scream – with multiple murders, cameos from Anna Paquin and Kristen Bell and more double bluffing than a pro-poker tournament.

A new Ghostface killer (voiced again by Roger L. Jackson, the franchise’s true unsung hero) is on the loose, just as original victim Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) returns to Woodsboro to plug her new trauma survival tome ‘Out of Darkness’.

Other familiar faces include the now-Sheriff Dewey Riley (David Arquette) and his bitchy wife, former star journalist Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox).

But it wouldn’t be Scream without Woodsboro High School, and advancing the plot by more than a decade allows Williamson (back on writing duties after handing Scream 3 to Ehren Kruger) to craft a new generation of knowing teens. Chief amongst them are Sidney’s cousin Jill (Emma Roberts) and her cinephile friend Kirby (Hayden Panettiere).

The introduction of such young newbies means that Scream 4 is a sequel that feels more like a reboot. Little wonder Ghostface is playing by new rules too. “You do a remake to outdo the original,” says Gale, realising our masked maniac has decided to up the ante by filming his murders and uploading them to the web.

He’s not the only one, with two video bloggers (Rory Culkin, Erik Knudsen), who run the school’s Cinema Club, streaming their every move for the internet.

Yet if Scream 4 has gone all tech-savvy it’s debatable whether it follows Gale’s advice and eclipses its predecessors. Rather it’s a case of business as usual.

The violence is 15-rated, the sex non-existent and the film references plentiful – ranging from affectionate (posters and namechecks for old Craven films) to scathing (“I hate all that torture porn shit”) to nodding (Kirby’s car almost gets scythed by an on-rushing van, à la Final Destination).

In fairness, the new cast – particularly an on-form Roberts – help freshen things up, and a decent twist dominates the third act. But aside from the tension-laced scene where two characters watch another get savaged from an opposite window, it’s rarely terrifying.

Let’s face it, next to Freddie and Jason, Ghostface has never been the most charismatic of killers as he flaps around in that silly cape, and it doesn’t change here. “What’s your favourite scary movie?”, he growls, repeatedly. Well, it’s not Scream 4. 

Verdict:

Better than the woeful Scream 3, partly thanks to the influx of new faces and the return of Williamson. But really it’s more of the same, as the franchise slips further towards total self-parody.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • pwbbounce

      Apr 14th 2011, 10:24

      Pretty standard stuff then! Still looking forward to seeing it though

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    • xpialidoceous

      Apr 14th 2011, 10:37

      3

      since Scream 3 brought the original trilogy to a (unsatisfying) close we've been stuck with horror remakes and torture porn, and we've become numb to movie violence confusing it with slapstick and comedy. so if Craven's new attempt to scare us seems a bit lame, we should blame the industry for raping the genre. Craven still does what he does best: turn a closed closet or an open door into something terrifying, and the new cast members are clearly enjoying being a part of the franchise. And the return of the old cast, with botox babe Courteney Cox on good form makes it somewhat nostalgic to watch. It's not the lame 'boo' fest that Scream 3 was, but it can easily stand next to the first one and call itself equal.

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    • fortunesfool

      Apr 14th 2011, 10:55

      Lets not forget that the original 'scream' was responsible for a slew of smug, self-aware, horror 'comedies' that effectively killed the genre dead for years. Still think they should have made this into a shaky-cam reboot to really get the point across.

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    • Legacy3D

      Apr 18th 2011, 5:40

      3

      New Decade, New Rules. Wes Craven returns to reinvent the scream series for a new audience. Set fifteen years after the events of the first movie, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) returns to Woodsboro to promote her new book recounting her survival of the original Ghostface killings. Dewey Riley (David Arquette) now Sheriff is married to Gail Weathers (Courteney Cox). Everything appears to be ok until two students are found brutally murdered on the anniversary of the day of the first killings by a new Ghostface Killer. The plot follows a group of high school students including Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere), Charlie Walker (Rory Culkin), Robbie Mercer (Erik Knudsen), Trevor Sheldon (Nico Tortorella) and Sidney’s cousin Jill (Emma Roberts) as they fight for survival from the new Ghostface. While Dewey, Gail and Sidney try to find out the identity of the new Ghostface. The plot in the beginning seems no different from any other scream movie, with Ghostface killing characters you don’t really care for. As the movie progress’s however there more interest as to what will happen next to main characters and who is the new Ghostface. Despite being a horror movie it does contain some laughs and moments where you’re thinking. Some of the kills as quite bloody and violence but other seem laughable and not serious. Characters are a mixed bag as Arquette as Sheriff Riley brings nothing new to the series. Roberts however as Sidney’s cousin is great in the role especially at the end, completely doing at 180 turn, in character compared to her other movie roles. Overall Scream 4 is nothing really new from this series, but is much better than scream 2 or 3 and with the addition of a new cast is worth watching for horror or thriller movie fans.

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    • movieguy

      Apr 18th 2011, 13:58

      "Better than the woeful Scream 3" - unfortunate that you also gave it three stars back in the day and there's a link to that review next to the Scream 4 review.

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    • AstAr

      Apr 18th 2011, 16:24

      5

      Scream 4 kicks Scream 1, 2, 3's ancient a**e so friggin' badly!!!!! Can't wait to watch it again and own it on DVD. My favourite Scream - safely said! Oh and IMAX made it 101% :-D

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    • tetley123

      Apr 18th 2011, 22:11

      3

      Just got back from seeing this tonight, was pretty average to be honest? have always loved the scream series and this is much of the same. nice to see some fresh new faces into the mix with some good script work by williamson back onboard. plenty of gore and entertaining moments but what really killed it was the ending, when the film seemed to be going so well until then. worth a watch but maybe it seems that this franchise has seen its day?

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    • JulesTSmith

      Apr 19th 2011, 11:49

      5

      This is one of the cleverest, funniest, scariest horror films to come out since the original movie in 1996! This isn't a reboot, it is a direct sequel but with a very modern and current feel to it that makes it accessible to a new audience while also delighting the fans of the original. We have a fantastic returning cast of Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox and David Arquette and also the re-teaming of Craven and Williamson who made the originals (let's forget Scooby Doo Scream 3)! The new cast are fantastic- Hayden Panieteirre a stand out brilliant new addition as the wise-cracking movie geek Kirby. This film is full of all the things that made Scream great. It's incredibly post-modern (or 'meta' if you're going by the new post modern term for post modernism) referencing how sequels and reboots never quite live up to the original and how you can get so caught up with being clever that the final reveal can be incoherent. It also has a great comment on society- a world that has changed dramatically since the original movie. Emma Robert's Jill in the film says 'we live our lives in the public- how are we meant to achieve fame?'. This is very true and a subject that Scream 4 handles perfectly. The critics who say this film is just another awful part 4 are not seeing the genius of Williamson's writing and have missed the point entirely. The way that Scream 4 is constructed is so smart- they subvert expectations but also satisfy and play with structure so you really don't know what's going to happen next. The killer/or ers reveal is masterly done- Craven throwing red herrings at the audience right from the get go so when you do learn who has been donning the Ghostface mask and hacking and slashing there is a genuine gasp of surprise. What makes this film possibly the best sequel since the original is that where the first film benefitted from the teens being aware of the classic slashers of the 70s and 80s, these teens are completely aware of the 'Stab' series and live in the same world that we do- we know who Ghostface is and so do they and the fact that they have become flippant about it just adds to the realism. I am a massive fan of the original and was very prepared to be disappointed with this instalment but I have to say I loved every minute- from the clever (and very funny) opening right until the end credits- this is a must see for anyone who enjoyed the original and just wants a roller-coaster ride of a film. Try and see it in the cinema with a packed audience - that's how these films should be seen and prepare to cheer at the end- cos it's a SCREAM BABY!

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    • ryangunn

      Apr 19th 2011, 12:09

      4

      i went to the cinema on the opening night and the atmosphere was brilliant... i am a massive fan of the original films and was not dissapointed... it's a film for the fans and it delivered all my expectations... bring on more...

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    • jackcarlin

      Jul 30th 2011, 15:14

      4

      Good Scare, Good Laugh and GREAT Fun!

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