TITLE: Scream 4
STARRING: Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere
DIRECTOR: Wes Craven
STUDIOS: Dimension Films, Corvus Corax Productions, Outerbacks Entertainment
RUN TIME: 103 min
RELEASED: April 15, 2011
By Seth Miller
Staff Writer, Part-Time Ninja
Slasher movies are my ultimate guilty pleasure. I should feel scared by a killer stalking idiot teens and killing them in a horrific fashion. But the whole situation is absurd and the stupid decisions by these kids make me laugh. The first Scream encapsulated everything I loved about slasher movies while including meta commentary about the fact they are horror movie clichés. But the sequels have suffered from diminishing quality, and Scream 4 is no exception.
Being nearly killed by psycho killers three times, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) has returned to Woodsboro to finish promoting her self-help book and catch up with Gale (Courtney Cox) and Dewey (David Arquette) who are having a hard time in their marriage. Wouldn’t you know it, teenagers soon turn up dead by and hunt is on for this new killer before he kills anybody else.
When you think of the Scream franchise, the first thing you probably think of is the post-modern take they have on the slasher movie genre. But the beginning of Scream 4 does it to such a degree that it wore me out. While the beginning was kind of funny, the fake outs and constant attempts to be smarter than it actually was just made me wish for the movie to be over soon. Some of the meta commentary about the fact that most horror movies today are remakes of older franchises, and the characters are essentially in a horror remake/reboot is funny and in some ways is clever. But most of the time it fails to live up to the previous films, and doesn’t do a very good job of transitioning to commentary. There is the potential for a good message about everyone’s desire to become famous in the age of the internet, and it seems to be built up pretty well throughout the movie, but when it comes together in the end it feels haphazard and isn’t well done.
The story is focused on the returning characters of Sidney, Gale, and Dewey; which is finem but the rest of the characters that are introduced aren’t given that much to work with and are basically walking stereotypes just waiting to get killed. The reveal about which one of them is the killer therefore lacks any real punch and the audience does not care so much about who it is.
The story is serviceable, it’s funny throughout the movie, and parts of it actually come off as scary. But overall, the meta commentary isn’t as good as before. There are two messages in the movie that aren’t handled well, and the bulk of the characters are just walking stereotypes waiting to be killed off. While the movie was intended to be a commentary on the rash of horror movie remakes, it eventually becomes what it’s commenting on, which is definitely not a good thing no matter how meta it is.