Scream 4 (USA, 2011) - Color, Director(s): Wes Craven
MPAA Rating: R
Approx. 111 min.
Z-rating: 3 stars out of 5
Cheese Factor: 3 stars out of 5
11 years after the "final" installment in what was supposed to be a trilogy, they added another sequel. Hitting theaters in April, when there aren't any other horror movies playing, Scream 4 still had the second-lowest opening of the franchise. Despite this, reviews for the film seem to be better than that of Scream 3. Kevin Williamson returns to the franchise, though he supposedly left early and they brought Ehren Kruger back. At least we got to see the return of the biggest slasher franchise of the 90's.
|Poster for Rob Zombie's Halloween 2 and The Thing|
Dewey is now the Sheriff of Woodsboro, Gale has given up her career as a reporter, and Sidney is now an author with the last stop of her book tour being her own hometown. We're introduced to a new generation of Woodsboro teens, specifically Sidney's cousin Jill (played by Emma Roberts) and her friends, who all seem to be movie buffs as if to carry on the spirit of Randy. Rather than satirizing slashers specifically, the movie seems to be taking jabs at the horror genre as a whole. Despite not actually being a remake, the characters insist the killer is working by the rules of horror remakes since "remakes are the only horror studios will greenlight." Running with that theme, they repeatedly mention how the killer is patterning his kills after the original murders in Woodsboro. This would by the same type of self-aware "meta" dialogue that first endeared us to the original Scream but it feels forced here. The first Scream was great because it was a slasher with kids who knew the rules to slasher movies but still made the same mistakes that got them killed. Scream 2 was a sequel that played on the idea of sequels having bigger and better kills. Scream 4 is a sequel they tacked on over a decade after the end of the trilogy. If they played off this more rather than trying to push it as remake or soft reboot, which it's not, the dialogue might've seemed more natural. A Star Wars or Indiana Jones reference would've so appropriate but instead, the movie feels like it's just poking fun at other horror movies without the same level of self-awareness the originals had. This doesn't make it any less fun to watch though.
|"Guaranteed third act main cast bloodbath"|
The new rules are the unexpected is the new cliché, kills have to be more extreme, and reversals have become the standard since "modern audiences got savvy to the rules of the originals." With an opening sequence that plays with your expectations and the final girl being the reverse of what you probably expect, at least this movie plays by its own rules. What's interesting was how they mentioned the killer should be recording the kills to upload onto the internet. This is obviously commenting on the popularity of vlogging, video reviews, webcasts, and sites like YouTube. With a character even going as far as saying that "people gotta see this shit, it's not like anyone reads anymore." While that does seem to be the case with the younger generation, the only movies I've ever seen where a slasher actually records his kills are in the Laid to Rest films.
Nudity: One of movie geeks had his "fingers crossed on some nudity for a change" (I did too!) but unfortunately, Craven is just a big tease.
|The Hills Have Eyes and Feast!|
Gore: After the rise of "torture porn" and ultra-violent movies like Haute Tension, The Devil's Rejects, and even the remake of Craven's own The Hills Have Eyes, they definitely knocked the gore up another notch. (Bam!) With the highest body count of the franchise and more brutal stabbings, they didn't skimp on the reason we're all here.
Awesome: Pretty awesome. While not nearly as influential or groundbreaking as the original, this brought back a fun franchise for a new generation. There are a ton of young recognizable faces the likes of Kristen Bell, Erik Knudsen, Lucy Hale, and Hayden Panettiere who is fantastic as Kirby nailing the horror movie trivia. Anna Paquin makes a cameo appearance and Marley Shelton (Grindhouse) plays a deputy who has a little crush on Dewey. Anthony Anderson is always fun and speaking of cops, it seems like they're always headed in the wrong direction. I can remember at least two separate instances of a cop cars making a hard U-turn after saying something like "I'm on my way!" Anyway, this movie has the best bedpan beatdown I've seen since "Stone Cold" Steve Austin whooped Vince McMahon's ass at the hospital. And bonus points for the girls watching Shaun of the Dead in one scene. If you like slashers, chances are you'll like this movie. Despite mixed reviews, I think most people will agree it's a better way to cap off the franchise than Scream 3.