Treeview: Scream 4
Good old Ghostface is back killing teens and asks the trademark question (with voice-changer app in tow): "What's your favorite scary movie?" Not this one, but it's much better than I expected it to be. Continue reading for my spoiler-free review of Scream 4.
Scream came along in 1996 and surprised everyone by becoming a huge success, it also spawned two shitty sequels. Much like Rage Against The Machine unintentionally did with rap-rock, Scream's fresh approach to the horror genre opened the door for a slew of less impressive copycats such as Valentine, I Know...Still Know...Always Know What You Did Last Summer, and Urban Legends (in the case of RATM it was Limp Bizkit and Papa Roach). Even the sequels to Scream were like cheap imitations of the original. Horror films sucked for quite a few years because of the success of Scream, despite all that I still loved the movie.
Here we are 15 years later with the former champion of the genre's first sequel in 11 years; Scream 4. I gotta say I was expecting a giant 90 minute turd to present itself in the theater but was pleasantly surprised by it's lack of terrible-ocity. Instead of focusing on Sidney Prescott, Deputy (now Sheriff) Dewey, and Gale Weathers, this time the cameras turned to a new generation of Scream-ers. Some of the standouts amongst the new faces were Allison Brie from NBC's Community (GREAT show!), Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Anthony Anderson, and Rory Culkin (Yes, Macaulay's little brother). There is also some terrible acting by new cast including the mummified performance from screen vet Mary McDonnell and Nico Tortello flat lined as Roberts' ex Trevor.
I don't want to reveal too much of the plot but here is what I will say; Sidney returns to her hometown of Woodsboro to promote her latest book and reconnect with her Aunt Kate (McDonnell) and younger cousin Jill (Roberts). Oddly enough she chooses the 15 year anniversary of her boyfriend Billy and friend Stu's killing spree (see Scream1). Hi-jinks insue.
Scream 4 provides plenty of scares and also a few laughs, whether intentionally or not. This was a very entertaining movie and definitely better than both previous sequels...but not the original. At some points the story gets so lost in it's own mythology it's like trying to watch Inception when you're stoned. Other things that stalled the film were too many slap-sticky unbelievable moments (no one delivers a one liner after getting a knife pushed six inches into their brain, sorry) and some poorly directed scenes at pivotal moments. I believe the story was very well written by Kevin Williamson but when the unveiling of Ghostface happens the performances fall flat for about two minutes. Just poorly acted and somewhat laughable, which is a damn shame because it bounces right back and you almost forget how bad it was...almost. Wes Craven has been around long enough to know he could've gotten a better take than the one in the final cut. This Scream had the potential for an incredible ending too but they go all Return of the King and stretch the movie well past it's obvious end point. I can't really say more than that without spoiling it but you will see the exact moment where the movie would have ended with a bang. Instead there were seven minutes of footage we have seen in every Scream film to date, way to puss out guys.
If you liked Scream, you'll like Scream 4. Even if you've only seen part 1, just knowing that Sidney, Dewey, and Gale survived two other films where a masked Ghostface tried to fillet them is enough. They really only make reference to the first film's events in the latest installment which is very smart, 2 and 3 sucked.
Final Verdict: The much needed transfusion of new blood in the cast pumps new life into the presumed dead franchise. Unfortunately Wes Craven includes a few too many gags and misses the best possible ending by seven minutes. B
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE MOVIE? NO SPOILERS PLEASE, REMEMBER NOT EVERYONE WHO READS THIS HAS SEEN IT YET.