Scream 4

6 May

Title: Scream 4
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Wes Craven
Writer: Kevin Williamson, based on his own characters
Starring: 
David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Anthony Anderson, Adam Brody, Rory Culkin, Mary McDonnell, Marley Shelton, Alison Brie, Anna Paquin, Kristen Bell, Lucy Hale, Britt Robertson, Shenae Grimes, Aimee Teegarden, Roger L. Jackson
MPAA Rating: 
R, strong bloody violence, language and some teen drinking
Runtime: 
111 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
7.2
Rotten Tomatoes: 
56%

I’m a pretty big fan of horror movies, and as one my life has been marked by Wes Craven. The master of horror, the genius behind such classics as The Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes, Nightmare on Elm Street and, of course, the Scream series. The Scream movies redefined the horror genre in the mid-nineties, the first one was just a huge breath of fresh air, one of the smartest horror films out there, full of self-referencing moments, self-aware characters and a nice amount of blood to go along with a great cast. It’s impossible to watch Scream and not love it, it’s just too damn fun, and the many spoofs that have been made of it just speak volumes about the impact it has had on pop culture.

In any case, Scream was obviously a huge success, so pretty much exactly a year after its release we got Scream 2, which had Neve Campbell, David Arquette and Courtney Cox, the three main players from the first one, returning to star alongside a new slew of secondary characters. And you know, even though the main castmembers and the writer and director were back on board you kind of have to expect a sequel, moreso when it’s to a horror film, to be a decline in quality from the first one. And yet it wasn’t, Scream 2 was pretty much just as great as the original, with an incredibly witty screenplay that worked as a terrific satire of the genre. Not to mention that the new characters introduced here were all pretty awesome, and the amount of funny and genuinely scary moments was on par with the first one.

And now, we get to Scream 3, released in the year 2000, the one that we all hoped would get Scream to be that perfect horror trilogy that had no faults. But that just wasn’t to be, and the third installment was just horribly sub-par in comparison to the spectacular first two. And that’s because the first two Scream films were well aware of the films they were representing to the point in which they became spoofs of them while still remaining having a solid quantity of great scary moments, while this third one just became plain-out dumb, and it really sucked, it was just a horrible mix of the typical genre clichés the first Scream films were so damn good at avoiding and at making fun of. Not to mention that the supporting cast, which is usually full of awesome characters and actors, was just filled with thinly written characters that did nothing to help out the main 3, who were great as always, especially Ms. Campbell who was the best thing about that film.

Now, Scream 3 may have sucked because Kevin Williamson, the guy that came up with the characters and wrote the first two, wasn’t there. But whatever the case, that crappy entry into the series essentially seemed to have killed it, until now, eleven years later. And Scream not only reunites all three main castmembers with Wes Craven, but Kevin Williamson was also there to craft the ideas, concepts and script, even though Ehren Kruger, who wrote the third one, was brought in mid-production to do some re-writes at Mr. Williamson’s unavailability, but the script is still credited to the guy that crafted the two good Scream films. And maybe having this one be written by the guy that crafted the good ones but retouched by the guy that wrote the bad one may explain the overall result of this film, one that’s not as incredible as those first two classics but that’s certainly an improvement over the last one.

Seriously, I thought Scream 4 was a success, and if what they want is a new trilogy then this is a commendable start to it. This one is full of pretty rad kills, goes back to its silly meta humor and has some awesome new characters played by some great young actors to join our main three. This one is just cool, the sort of film that serves as a very welcome reminder of just how fresh the first Scream films were and that even though this one doesn’t live up to those heights it’s still quite great to watch.

This film really doesn’t quite pull it off, it’s not a hugely towering achievement, but it comes this close, and the fact that this, a film that’s the fourth entry in a franchise that was thought dead and left alone over a decade ago, got that close to being incredible, is a feat to really celebrate and, much like he did six years ago with the terrific Red Eye, Mr. Craven shows that, at 71 years old, he’s got plenty left in the tank. And it comes so close at working because, if you liked the first films, then you’ll feel right at home here, with the new kids at that Woodsboro highscool who still all love horror films and thus spawn a bucketload of self-references and meta fun that goes a long way to making Scream 4 pretty damn good.

Now, I was five years old when the first Scream came out, so it’s not as though the wait has been unbearable on me because I saw all three films in one week back in 2003, but I still feel love for these films because they were some of the ones that got me introduced to world of horror films and because I was fascinated with how the characters were all so very aware of all the horror film clichés so that they can avoid them, which added layers of layers of meta to it and made for some very original and entertaining plotlines and, especially, kills.

So I loved this one because it still had the two hot girls watching a horror movie and talking about the meta and postmodern stuff behind it all, and of course even that’s meta because those are characters behind Stab 6 which is a film about the killings in Woodsboro. And that’s what we get in Scream 4, all these references within itself that work to blend in the fiction into reality and get us just as used to both things and to any situation that could present itself to us here, but of course once we’re back in the real Woodsboro we’ll find out that the latest Ghostface has been killing new teenagers who watch horror films.

Not to mention that our main three characters from the originals are all grown-up now! Sidney Prescott, who’s played by Neve Campbell who’s as awesome as always, comes back to town now being a best-selling author after writing a self-help book based on her experience from surviving the first Ghostface, and Sheriff Dewey and Gale Weathers, played by David Arquette and Courtney Cox when they were still married, are now a couple here with a very fun relationship to watch. But of course we’re on the verge of watching something horrible happen as someone points out when Sydney comes back to town, because she kind of brings all these crazy happenings to town.

As for the new breeds, it’s all based around Emma Roberts’ character Jill, who’s actually Sidney’s young cousin. And she an her friends are the focus of the latest Ghostface who’s hell beant of re-creating the events of that first Stab film-within-a-film. And it’s all good, it’s all in really good fun, the past ten years with the explosion of the internet have given the filmmakers new toys to play with here, and the three original castmembers are all awesome at reprising their roles. And the new blood includes some awesome people like Adam Brody, Rory Culkin and Alison Brie, who’s a favorite of mine from her work in Community and who’s 7 different kinds of gorgeous. Not to mention that some of the hottest faces of television are also here with True Blood‘s Anna Paquin, Pretty Little Liars‘ Lucy Hale, Life Unexpected‘s Britt Robertson (I’ll miss that show), 90210‘s Shenae Grimes and Friday Night Lights‘ (my favorite TV show ever which I’ll miss even more) Aimee Teegarden all making appearances here. If Scream 4 means the start of a new trilogy, I’m insanely happy about this one being the first stepping stone set.

Grade: B

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