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SCREAM 4 (2011)

>> Saturday, April 16, 2011

Something to scream for...

ream was the first R-rated movie I had ever seen. It was 1997, I was twelve years old and I (along with some friends) watched it on VHS. As an R-rated film, I have to say I didn't get what the big deal was. Yes, there was blood (plenty of it); yes there was sex (not so plentiful) - but maybe twelve was the perfect age to see a film like this because it didn't bother me in the slightest. In fact, Scream was responsible for me having an insatiable hunger from that point forward for the horror genre in general. Scream led to Halloween, which led to Psycho, which led to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, etc. By the time I saw Scream 2 I was rarin' to go to film school so I absolutely loved the self-referential sequel. Scream 3 came along and while I was excited to see it, it was definitely my least favorite of the series (despite it taking place in Hollywood - a place I idolized at the time). Now here we are, eleven years later and Scream is back - either to start a new trilogy for a new decade or is more of a bonus film for the Scream fan in all of us.

Scream 4 begins with the return of Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell) to the now famous Woodsboro. Well, actually, Scream 4 begins with several false beginnings that makes you want to stab yourself. But once you're past a supposed 'intelligent' commentary on horror movies today, Scream picks up where it should and you begin to feel like you're spending some time with old friends, again. Sydney is now a published author (with her very own self help book) and Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) is now a big ol'nothing as she lives ambitionless in small town America with her hubby, Dewey Riley (David Arquette).

All is fine in Woodsboro on the anniversary of the original killings, until two bodies are found and it seems Sydney's return to her old homestead may be the exact cause. Two films geeks (Erik Knudsen and Rory Culkin - the Randy's in this latest addition) theorize that the new killer is trying to reboot the franchise and rewrite the rules. So is nobody truly safe? Can Sydney actually be killed now? The answer is supposedly 'Yes'. 'New decade, new rules' as the poster says. From this point, you can guess what happens. Murder after murder after murder, followed by several false endings. However, Scream 4 ends up being a pretty good addition, one which I really enjoyed.

As I said earlier, I was and still am a fan of the original trilogy (for the most part). So my opinions are slightly bias (as are most critics, really), but I would still like to believe that if Scream 4 really disappointed me I would be able to tell you. In fact, as a fan of the original three - I believe there's actually put more pressure on the studio and director Wes Craven to get it right. Not only that, but it had to be emphasized that there were two alternative ways this film revitalization could have gone. Scream 4 could have gone the popular route and been a complete remake (ie: Halloween) and then to top it off be in 3-D; or even worse yet, it could have tried to continue the story without the main cast and moved on with a character that never appeared in the original. A title for movie like that would have been something along the lines of Scream: The New Cut - or some crap like that. Thankfully though, we get a bonified sequel.

However, considering how Scream 4 played out and ended (as well as Campbell's reluctance to be part of this sequel), I question whether this is an actual attempt to continue on with the series and start a new franchise (as has been reported) - because I just simply don't see how they could. Actually, I don't know whether or not they should (or if two more are even necessary). I personally, liked Scream 4 enough to consider it more of an encore to the original trilogy. Fans of the original wanted another - so they got it. To stop now feels right because Scream 4 was a nice nod to the original and had some nice commentary on the use of newer technology to 'stalk' or 'scare' somebody. I get a kick out of seeing somebody get just as scared by a text, tweet or Facebook message as they did by a phone call back in '96. Even the use of webcams to record the murders was all well incorporated by original Scream writer Kevin Williamson.

Despite a few flaws like the beginning (or beginnings, rather), I didn't feel like Scream 4 was a tired or used-up idea and actually had quite a good time revisiting Woodsboro - which is why I'm giving it an open door. Could it be better? I dunno - maybe. Will it knock your socks off with groundbreaking ideas and philosophies? No. Will you enjoy seeing Sydney kick the shit out of Ghostface? Hell yes! While you may get tired or the film being so self-referential, it's clear from the action on screen that the cast had a lot of fun making this one, and while I am reluctant - if Scream 5 and 6 comes out soon, I'll be seeing them as well. Let's just hope they have a plan...

*Stills courtesy of Dimension Films


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