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Film Title

Scream 4

Director

Wes Craven

Starring

  • Neve Campbell as Sidney Prescott
  • Courteney Cox as Gale Weathers-Riley
  • David Arquette as Dewey Riley
  • Emma Roberts as Jill Roberts
  • Hayden Panettiere as Kirby Reed
  • Rory Culkin as Charlie Walker
  • Erik Knudsen as Robbie Mercer
  • Marley Shelton as Deputy Judy Hicks
  • Alison Brie as Rebecca
  • Nico Tortorella as Trevor
  • Mary McDonnell as Kate Roberts

A return to the slasher series with a satirical edge, Scream 4 undoubtedly has its flaws. But it would be impossible to reach the heights of the influential first movie and if you look at it from a singular standpoint, Scream 4 is still rollicking and entertaining, albeit with problems. Plus, you’ve got Wes Craven on directing duties, Kevin Williamson back in the writing department and three of the principal actors from the original trilogy. And in those areas, Scream 4 rocks.

It has been ten years since the first spate of slayings in Woodsboro and Sidney Prescott returns. In the time since, she has written a self-help book and become a very confident woman whose no longer scared of her past. She stays with her Aunt Kate and cousin Jill, who is in her teens and surrounded by friends who adore the movies. Her return is part of her book tour and she reconnects with friends Dewey Riley, who is now the Sheriff and Gale, who is married to Dewey and whose career as a writer has somewhat stalled since moving back to Woodsboro a number of years ago. Dewey is having a good enough tenure as Sheriff of his hometown, while Gale has writer’s block and craves a new challenge. Yet as Sidney arrives, her old nemesis of Ghostface makes his presence felt with a rash of grisly murders, akin to the crimes perpetrated all those years ago. With a new generation of wise ass teens on the block, we learn that the killer may be trying to outdo the original in the way that most reboots do. That means it’s up to Sidney, an inquisitive Gale and Dewey to unearth the psycho before more blood is shed from the people Sidney holds dear to her heart. But just who is starting all these killings over again and what is the overall motive?

Wes Craven, that great iconic director of horror, is firmly in the director’s seat and his obvious expertise in the genre are at play. Though some of it feels stale, Craven has enough energy and style to make Scream 4 at least a worthy entry to the canon. In a sad footnote, Scream 4 was Craven’s last directing gig before his death and he left us with a good movie to go out on. While it has some problems, I will say that it has a bit more a better ratio with laughs and scares than Scream 3 did. meta and self referential areas are still pretty much intact, though they can lack some of the panache the other movies had.  Regardless, the many satiric jibes about endless glut of horror movies that attempt to outdo their predecessors by being outrageous and bigger are well-handled. The in jokes here are pretty amusing it must be said, as a new set of reboot rules come out to play. Because so much has changed in the world of movies and technology, Scream 4 can seem a bit forced as it is a totally different age from when the first three where hot. Saying that, quite a lot of the humour regarding us being such a dependent species on the Internet and the lives of others is particularly tart and barbed; something writer Kevin Williamson knows a lot about. Yet for all the mocking of conventions, it slips into many of them a lot more than necessary. Overall though, the script and return of Williamson are inspired and still very witty when it comes to be self-aware. Just that opening film within a film part is wildly entertaining as a send up to relentless sequels in the gore-filled genre. Seriously too, I loved the homages to the other films in the franchise; a lot of them really stuck in my mind and surprised me. Probably the most glaring flaw is the lack of interesting supporting characters, save for movie savvy Kirby, girl next door Jill and geeky Charlie . The rest of the teenagers are mere cardboard cut outs whose main purpose is to die extravagantly( though that does make the film more brutal and pretty scary it must be stated). The other main flaw within Scream 4 is that it overlong and could have been cut better, instead of dragging quite a big chunk of it out. I believe it’s a flawed movie, but it has some excellent moments that bring us back into the feel of the first troika of works. Marco Beltrami also returns on music duties and kicks up the action and winking to the audience that these movies are a dab hand at. The music has always been a big part of why I love these movies and this doesn’t disappoint, along with some side-swiping writing and inventive deaths.

The returning cast members slip back into the roles they know so well and do it with style. Neve Campbell once more impresses as perennial survivor Sidney, who is now older and more confident than ever before. Campbell portrays Sidney at her most hard-edged and ready for battle, even having a bit of sarcasm and as she’s faced this horror before yet refused to be the victim. That quality of overcoming adversity and personal growth has always been the most effective thing about Sidney Prescott, best embodied by the naturalness and heart of Campbell. She is still obviously terrified by events repeating themselves, but by now can take charge and kick ass with both attitude and soul. All bow down to Sidney Prescott and Neve Campbell for bringing this resilient character back to life. Courteney Cox gets to show that Gale can still be a fabulous bitch who wants her part of the glory solving the crimes, in typically defiant and amusing and near dangerous fashion. David Arquette’s puppy like enthusiasm is still there in funny ways, though it is tempered with a weariness now that the character is older. It was nice seeing these three characters return once more and still be interesting to watch. Emma Roberts is good as the cousin of Sidney, while Hayden Panettiere steals the show as the wise ass, movie buff Kirby. Exhibiting a sassy attitude and flirty sex appeal, she was a lot of fun to watch. Rory Culkin and Erik Knudsen are pretty OK as the movie geeks of the piece, though Culkin overshadows Knudsen because he appears more than him. The gorgeous Marley Shelton is unfortunately saddled with an uninteresting part of adoring police deputy who has a thing for her boss and Alison Brie majorly grates as the bitchy publicist with a big mouth and condescending persona. Nico Tortorella is pretty bland and not at all convincing as a creepy ex-boyfriend of Jill’s, while Mary McDonnell is completely wasted in her role as Sidney’s Aunt.

As flawed as it gets and lazy in some aspects it becomes, Scream 4 is largely an entertaining return to the series, aided by some inventive deaths and characters we know and love. Imperfect it may be, but any Scream is better than no Scream, even with some blemishes to its name.

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