Cast:Courteney Cox Arquette, David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Rory Culkin, Nico Tortorella, Anthony Anderson, Marielle Jaffe, Adam Brody, Marley Shelton, Erik Knudsen, Mary McDonnell, Alison Brie, Cindy Clark, Kristen Bell, Anna Paquin, Shenae Grimes, Lucy Hale, Brittany Roberts, Aimee Teegarden
Has it really been almost 15 years since the original Scream came out? Holy Hell I’m getting old. Whether you love it or hate it, Scream was without a doubt the most important horror film of the 90s, resuscitating the flat-lining genre for a new generation…a generation who spent their childhoods watching slasher classics on VHS…my generation. Hitting theaters eleven years after the lackluster third entry, Scream 4 had every right to be nothing short of an ill conceived, cash grab disaster. But with Craven back in good form, a script from series mastermind, Kevin Williamson, and a cast that melds the old school with the new school, Scream 4 ended up being the strongest, and most culturally relevant entry since the original.
In keeping this review as spoiler free as possible, the plot revolves around Sidney Prescott returning to Woodsboro on the 15th anniversary of the original murders to promote her new self-help book. Being the “angel of death” that she is, the bodies begin to pile up as a new killer sets his sights on “remaking” the original events, recasting Sidney with her cousin Jill, who’s core group of friends bear a striking resemblance to the original group. Back for mayhem are veterans Dewey Riley, now the town’s sheriff, and his wife Gale Weathers, who clamors for the excitement that a new slew of murders bring to her boring, small town life.
From the opening scene to the final shot, Scream 4 lives up to its tagline of “new decade, new rules.” This is a more cynical, violent Scream with a lot to say about, not only our technology-obsessed society, but of the sad state of the seemingly never-ending remake craze. The reason why this entry works is the same reason why the original did. Being, first and foremost, a horror fan, Williamson knows his shit. Yes, despite the fact that he had to leave the production due to his Vampire Diaries commitment, this is (for the most part) without a doubt his script. Part 3 failed because Ehren Kruger really just doesn’t get the genre like Williamson or have his savvy, pop culture insight. I’ve heard a lot of criticism of this new entry being too self referential for its own good. But honestly, if it wanted to stay fresh, there’s no other direction it could have taken.
The returning cast slipped right back into their roles with ease, especially Courtney Cox-Arquette, who quickly became the scene-stealer she was in the first two entries. As for the brand spanking new cast of sexy, high school co-eds, I was ready to completely write off Emma Roberts performance as a dull, retread of what Neve Campbell already perfected. But by the end she completely came into her own, and ended up creating a great, memorable final girl. Hayden Panetierre will easily become a fan favorite, as a hot, fun and quick-witted combination of Randy and Tatum…basically every horror nerd’s wet dream.
Wes Craven has always been a hit or miss director, evident by that recent “experiment”, we’ll call it, My Soul to Take. Here he delivers his most competent film since, well, since Scream 2. While us jaded fanboys are always hard-pressed to actually be scared by horror movies anymore, Craven has a way of timing out scenes that build up the tension and suspense that goes beyond a simple jump scare. And after four films in the same series, that’s definitely something to applaud.
What I can only assume is due to time constraints and pacing concerns, the movie feels rushed. The original Scream took its time making sure that every single character was fleshed out, with none of them ever coming off like throwaways. With Scream 4, I got the feeling that there were a lot of character development scenes that were trimmed down, or deleted all together. Mostly evident with the character of Jill’s boyfriend, Trevor, and her mother. A glimpse at the trailer only reinforces these suspicions, as the scene of the new characters beside the fountain is nowhere to be found. The entire third act has apparent editing issues as well, as characters walk in and out of scenes, ending up in different places than they were before with no explanation why. Clocking in just under two hours, I get why they thought they needed to quicken things up. But, hell, if it means getting a more complete film, I would have sat through another half hour.
As mentioned before (and discussed profusely on line) Williamson had to leave production, which resulted in Scream 3’s Kruger entering in for on-set rewrites. This is not unheard of and happens all the time during film productions, because you really need a writer on hand if what was on the page just doesn’t come off right when you actually do it. The issue here, and why I think people made such a big deal about it, is that Williamson has such a distinct way of writing that it’s overtly obviously when a character says a line that clearly wasn’t his. These occasions are few and far between, but still distracting.
If you’re a fan of the series, Scream 4 is a smart, cynical, and sometimes brutal reinvention of the franchise. Though not flawless by any means, Williamson and Craven managed to deliver some entertaining slasher goodness, while giving today’s remake trend an big “fuck you” to boot.
|Posted on April 14, 2011 - 11:49am | Johnny D|