While I’m always excited for a new film in a franchise, I’ve never been 100% behind Scream 4. Back during the heavily publicized Weinstein Company woes, the Wes Craven-directed sequel – or beginning to a new trilogy, depending on how you look at it – was announced. It appeared to be Harvey and Bob’s way of making a quick buck, and personally I was never sold on the idea. A fresh take? “My ass,” I’d think to myself. It was all about the Benjamins, it’s always about the Benjamins…
Sure, money is always the backbone of any release, or franchise revival, but I honestly believe that Dimension Films, Wes Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson were triumphant in delivering a fresh, smart, twisted, and ultra-violent slasher sequel that will not only please fans of the original trilogy, but introduce an entire new generation of kids to horror.
In the fourth film, franchise survivor Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), now the author of a self-help book, returns home to Woodsboro on the last stop of her book tour. There she reconnects with Sheriff Dewey (David Arquette) and Gale (Courtney Cox), who are now married, as well as her cousin Jill (Emma Roberts) and her Aunt Kate (Mary McDonnell). Unfortunately Sidney’s appearance also brings about the return of Ghostface, putting Sidney, Gale, and Dewey, along with Jill, her friends, and the whole town of Woodsboro in danger. – Official synopsis
It’s nearly impossible to talk further about the plot or any specific happenings without giving anything away, so unfortunately our debate, and my personal explanations, will have to wait until another day. On another note, I can talk about the structural elements of the flick. For example, Scream 4, much like its predecessors, spends the bulk of its time building red herrings. Who’s the killer you ask? Craven, with the help of Williamson (and rewrites by Ehren Kruger) does an intricate job of owning up to their declaration that “anybody can be the killer.” Each and every star could easily be the infamous Ghostface, until of course they are eliminated in a heavy dosage of blood. While this adds an engaging element to the story, it also slightly hinders the second act by causing some serious pacing issues. A necessary evil I say. And the eventual reveal? Let’s just say I personally thought the killer’s motives were hyper-relevant to today’s society, and cleverly derived. Without giving anything away, I have my own personal thoughts on how the movie should have ended, but can live with the added twist. Ultimately, it was a satisfying conclusion that left much to digest over the course of the night.
I also quite enjoyed how unapologetic the screenplay was. Craven and company could have easily cowered away from trite conventions created in the first Scream. Any other horror film that would even dare touch on elements from Scream would be crucified by the horror community, and myself. Upon reflection, if there’s one movie that’s allowed to be its own satire, it’s Scream 4. Basically what I’m saying is: Scream 4 is allowed to be a ‘90s teen slasher, and no, they don’t have to apologize for it because they invented it. This may be a turn off to some viewers (Ghostface haters), but for those of you who saw Scream in theaters 2, 3, maybe even 4 times, Scream 4 is a love letter that’ll pierce deep into your heart.
Speaking of piercing hearts, Craven made sure he continued to keep the franchise R-rated. Scream 4 just might be the bloodiest of them all. There are rooms covered in blood, intestines spilled out onto beds, knives being driven into people’s foreheads (this is so crazy amazing I can’t even begin to tell you), and much, much more. The film earns its stripes and the moniker of a “slasher” film.
Even though a few moments fell into Scary Movie territory, Scream 4 is a near-brilliant slasher sequel that stabs new life into the Ghostface mythology; it reinvents the subgenre and even finds a way to scream “f*ck remakes” louder than ever before. Maybe originality isn’t dead; maybe it takes a movie like this to oil the rusted cogs in the Hollywood wheel that’s stuck on rehashing old garbage? In 1996 Scream changed the direction of the genre, now, 11 years after concluding the trilogy, could Craven do it again?
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