Welcome to the first in hopefully many entries of “In Defense Of”. A series where I take a movie that generally gets a lot of shit that actually isn’t THAT bad. Of course this is all opinion and you may not agree with what I say but hopefully you will get some enjoyment.
So as the title suggests I am here to discuss the merits of Wes Craven’s Scream 4. I can already feel the eye rolls coming my way and I want it to be clear that I am not one of those die hard Craven fans that think everything he has done is gold. Because it’s not. Fuck Cursed. BUT! Scream 4 is not NEARLY as bad as it has been made out to be. Its major fault is being the 4th in a series that didn’t ask for sequels and we can hardly blame it for coming out after Scream 3.
So the plot: Sidney comes back to her home town to discuss her new book, “Out of the Darkness” and finally rid her of the “victim” status she has grown up with. But Sidney isn’t escaping that easily, now Ghost Face wants to kill her for good and anyone else who gets in his way, including her cousin!
Basic plot for these movies sure, but we are here for a slasher movie and there are always allowances for simple plots. I really like the idea of Sidney coming back to her hometown to finally close her horrible past. She has to have a ton of survivor’s guilt and it makes sense for her to come back and face it. I will say that the cousin angle is sort of shoe-horned in and at first seems completely ridiculous. Why have we never met her before? Or Sidney’s aunt for that matter. But I am willing to excuse that for the following reasons.
- Scream 4 is probably the most meta/self-referential of the series and for me this is a plus. I like meta things and I like being the one in the group that “gets” the jokes and references when other people don’t. But I also enjoy that it sort of takes a jab at it’s own references. Courtney Cox even has a line stating how she doesn’t get “meta” and she just heard someone say it. Craven and Williamson understand that their self-referential-ness had become a joke and rather than try to play it serious they goofed on themselves and I can respect that.
- I was listening to a podcast and they discuss how Friday the 13th should never leave the 80s and how that is part of why the later movies suck so bad. I feel the same idea applies here, it’s still got that weird 90s feel. Obviously Scream 4 is set in present day and we have a considerable amount of cellphone usage to prove it but for some reason it still feels like a 90s horror movie. The Scream franchise was born in the 90s and it should hold on to that feeling.
- For me, the cast of characters are just as likable (if not more so) than some of their predecessors. Obviously Sidney, Gayle and Dewy remain the same but as far as the new kids go they are pretty entertaining. These are kids I would have wanted to be friends with in school, yes even the Caulkin…until his major flaws in the latter half of the movie. The core group of Jill, Kirby and Marnie sort of remind me of Laurie, Annie and Lynda of Halloween fame.
- Sidney is the ultimate Final Girl. She does not die and she gets the shit kicked out of her for 4 movies but just keeps coming back. Even Laurie Strode bit the dust eventually but so far so good for Sidney and that’s awesome. She has firmly built her place in Final Girl history and though not a Scream Queen, she still kicks ass.
- Finally, even if Craven’s entire intent with the Scream franchise was to make fun of the formulaic-ness of slasher movies thus fueling his ego as the “more creative” of the big horror movie monster creators…he still made a decent slasher movie. Ghostface has a great body count, bloody kills, and plenty of teens to destroy. What isn’t to enjoy?
Is Scream 4 a great movie? No, but it’s hardly the worst sequel ever. I would watch Scream 4 over Jason Goes To Hell or even Wes Craven’s New Nightmare any day of the week! So what say you? Did you hate? Like it? Tolerate it? Why? Discuss!