Ghostface returns in this failed revisit to the original Woodsboro setting, accompanied by regurgitated death scenes, following obscene phone calls and a fight for survival with scary movie exams. Scream 4 opens with a film within a film within a film – Stab 6 and 7 then the first murders welcoming Sidney Prescott back to Woodsboro. After 10 years, Sidney has been able to shed off that pesky ‘victim’ image with her self-help book in hopes that she will never be referred to as a victim again. Unfortunately, her book “Out of Darkness” opens the door for more copycat killings. Not only are Sidney, Gale, and Dewey the targets but Sidney’s cousin and friends are being harassed by the killer(s). Gale is hopelessly bored as the now Sheriff Dewey’s wife and desperately wants to write another book. If only Deputy Marley Shelton and her try hard lemon squares weren’t standing in her way. You know the story. It’s the same ‘who-dun-it’ as the previous three with red herrings and obligatory nods to the horror genre.
In a way, I thought the opening sequence making a crack at the Stab films and pretty much every other typical horror film ever made (thanks Anna Paquin) was unique and fun but it was also annoying and silly. It may be too much for viewers.
Courtney Cox and David Arquette’s return as Gale and Dewey makes me feel all happy inside. The two are without a doubt the most engaging characters from the franchise. They’re one of my favorite couples in a horror film. However, we do not get to see as much of them as I would have liked. Especially Gale. It’s hard for me to like Sidney’s monotonous ‘final girl’ role and I have never been a huge fan of Neve Campbell’s acting. She’s not a horrible actress but she’s also nothing special in my book.
The first film had style accompanied by excellent script writing and comedic tone. Even the score and soundtrack were pleasing as it fit the tone of the film. The characters were colorful and fun to watch. You actually cared about them. Even the bad guys. Whereas the characters in Scream 4 meant absolutely nothing to me with the exception of Dewey and Gale. With Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson returning, I expected more. How disappointing. The dialogue isn’t anywhere near as good as the writing in at least the first two entries. The killers dialogue over the phone becomes completely annoying, “This isn’t fucking Trevor.” I enjoy that they’re trying to revisit the first film so it’s natural some of those scenes are recycled but the viewers still deserve something FRESH! It’s the same old shit which makes it slightly boring to watch. The ending was a twist I never saw coming though. It’s completely ridiculous but still catches you by surprise.
These films aren’t just a goof on horror films with a rule book, they’re quite graphic with brutal stabbings, insides trailing out, and buckets of blood. Gore fans will never be disappointed in that area and the special effects never fall short.
The franchise also tends to have a group of cameos in each film. This time around, I was a little disappointed. Although it was nice to see Anna Paquin and Kristen Bell. Alison Brie was also a nice touch as Rebecca Walters. She’s remembered for her lovable Jewish character in the hit comedy TV show “Community.” Anthony Anderson steps in as a police officer. Anderson is a lovable black comedian that you may remember from Me, Myself, & Irene and the Scary Movie spoofs. I wasn’t too impressed with Emma Robert’s performance as the lead, Jill. Overacting anyone? Beautiful, still overacting. Am I wrong for crushing on Rory Culkin’s character? He’s only 23 but his long flowing hair and beautiful eyes along with the fact that he’s a horror movie buff just has me winded. I would have dated that kid in high school. Hayden Panettiere as Kirby is possibly the biggest talent in the younger cast. If you haven’t seen her performance as Amanda Knox in “Murder on Trial in Italy” then you need to get all over that.
The barn Stabathon was a fun scene for me because I’ve had those parties before. Never at that particular location but get-togethers where you drink every time someone says, “NO” and quote the entire film. Fun times.
There are some fun one-liners. For example, “The first rule of remakes – Don’t fuck with the original!”
Overall, Scream 4 stays true to the franchise but the same pizazz from the previous seems to be missing. I have a feeling only true horror fans who get those jokes and references will have appreciation for the Scream films. The idea of a Ghostface killer is absurd but you’re not suppose to take these films seriously.