Now Showing on Cable: “Scream 4″

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Debuting this weekend on Showtime was “Scream 4″, Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven’s return to Woodsboro. Ten years after “Scream 3″, all the key principals reunite in order to see if they can resuscitate the dormant horror franchise.

The “Scream” franchise has always been known for being a self-aware genre critique. The original’s clever script and rising-star cast turned it into a modern horror classic. The sequel was a worthy one, continuing the “meta” trend by turning the commentary to sequels. The third, however, was an abominable disappointment, drawing scorn from critics and underperforming the previous installments. Essentially, “Scream 3″ ended the franchise… til now.

But was Woodsboro worth returning to?

“Scream 4″ finds heroine Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) returning to her home town as a stop on her book signing tour. Sidney has come to grips with her past and written a book about moving beyond her experiences as a victim. However, the book tour stop coincides with the 15th anniversary of the murders and as if on queue, the murders begin again as soon as she arrives. Returning to town also brings her into contact with series stalwarts Sheriff Dewey (David Arquette) and Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox). Sidney and Gale still have plenty of baggage to work through, but the fact that Ghostface is on the prowl again puts the emphasis on trying to stop the killings.

As we’re reintroduced to the old dramas, we’re also introduced to a new class of Woodsboro high school students, including Sidney’s young cousin, Jill (Emma Roberts). Of course, the majority of them are simply bodies to be thrown on the pyre. As in all “Scream” movies, this generation of Woodsboro High students are obsessed with horror movies, but by this point in time, the movie series within the movie series – “Stab” – has grown to be an entire franchise, so they can focus their horror movie adulation exclusively on it.

That fits right in with the self-obsessed nature of the film. The “Commentary” in this episode briefly touches on the endless nature of sequels, but mainly focuses on social media and people’s endless appetite for documenting and sharing their own experiences. Characters wield mini-cams, live video-blogging the events as they unfold. Other characters, in turn, stream the feed on their phones. The killer is recording things as well. Everyone in this movie is recording. The “Meta” commentary has amplified itself to the point where it’s now commenting on “Meta” commentaries.

Unfortunately, none of it comes together. The “commentary” here feels forced, like it was something inserted out of obligation to the requirements of the series as opposed to anything that anyone actually wanted to say. The kill scenes are fine, with Ghostface being his same old flailing, falling, phone-calling self. As is typical with a “Scream” movie though, the wheels completely come off once Ghostface removes the mask and the killer tries to explain their motivation. This particular reveal is convoluted, non-sensical and arbitrary. I also didn’t care for a good portion of the new cast, particularly Emma Roberts. I found her sadly lacking as the secondary lead. She’s not alone though, I really didn’t connect with any of the new kids.

I’m a big fan of “Scream” and “Scream 2″, so I had hopes for this one. Unfortunately, it let me down.

D

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33 thoughts on “Now Showing on Cable: “Scream 4″

  1. I kind of felt that as the sequels progressed, the franchise just sort of turned into what it was originally lampooning. The first one was amazingly clever and I really haven’t had the same feelings towards the series since. Cabin in the Woods gave me that Scream 1 feeling though. Let’s hope they don’t follow that one up!

    • I’m just going to sidestep any Cabin in the Woods talk, LOL.

      You’re 100% right on how the franchise degenerated though Markus. This last one was precisely the pointless, churned out umpteenth installment that they’re being so critical of. LOL

  2. I actually don’t like any of the Scream movies (yes, I watched all of them regardless), but that’s just a personal bias of mine: I can’t stand clever horror movies. I can’t explain why; they just irritate me.

  3. I figured Scream 4 wasn’t as good as Scream or Scream too, and as you said normally when new characters are added, they don’t contribute much to the movie.

    • Exactly Aidy. Just like you say, they tried to do like this half and half where half of the movie was the old characters and half was all the new kids.

      It didnt work out. They should have just picked a side and went with it!

  4. You know, weirdly enough I liked Scream 4. I believe it was because I was expecting so little from this movie. If I had high hopes (like everyone else), I would be sorely disappointed.

    • I dont know that my hopes were all that high Ha. LOL. Just checked back in the write up and I deliberately left the word “High” out of the “I had hopes for this one” :D

      Anyways, if you weren’t asking too much of it, you probably wouldnt be let down… that’s easy math. There was your typical amount of “Ghostface kills people” – I was ok with that part!

  5. I was so disappointed with Scream 4 :( I wanted for it to add some more energy to the franchise, but it just sucked it all out. Trying to out-clever the previous films.

    It was fine, but not nearly as good as Scream 1. Well, not nearly as good as Scream 3, so that’s saying something!

    • Yeah, sucked the life out is a good term for it. I think it’ll be dead for sure now. No Scream 5…

      Although, how many times have horror movie victims walked away from the killer on the floor, thinking he’s dead? :D

  6. For me this is the little engine that almost gets there but putters out in the last thirty minutes and ends up being something of a drag. It’s so close to saying what it wants to say! And I’ll vouch for the cast, for the most part; they’re solid. They’re just working with material that doesn’t push as hard as it needs to in order to attain relevance or say something meaningful– or even be all that scary. I think part of the problem when you’re telling the same joke four times is one of inevitability; it’s impossible for it to maneuver without becoming self-satirizing and completely undercutting its own horror. So the movie never really delivers on what it needs to.

    • Yeah, you’re totally right. There was a lot of “Been there, Done that” to this. Can’t blame the cast I guess, but I just never bought into them as well as the star studded “Scream”, say…

      And you’re right too, if they had stuck the landing a little btter, this movie stood a chance.

      I dont think they did though…

  7. I actually kinda liked this one. Nothing groundbreaking or original in any way but it kept me guessing until the end. I guess I enjoyed it more just because I haven’t seen a Scream movie in like a decade or something ahah

    • Yeah… that might help.

      I wouldnt knock anyone for enjoying this, it IS still a scream movie, so if you like the series at all, there are things to enjoy here, too.

      I just couldnt recommend it to anyone…LOL :D

    • I’m with you Castor. I was not expecting a whole lot. That night just felt like a teen slasher, which by default is easy on the head. So it fit the bill and I enjoyed it. Sorry fogs.

      • No, no. Not at all TBoy!

        There are movies that my position is set in stone in and I’d be very dismissive of other people, or hard to budge in my own opinion… this isnt one of them at all. If you like it, thats great I dont HATE it or anything, I just thought it was weak.

        Plus, unless there’s “Overhyping” involved (LOL) I never mind if people like movies more than I do. I love it when people enjoy movies, thats why we all love talking about them so much, theyre so much fun.

      • Set in stone, eh… I bet As Good As It Gets is one of them. I finally saw it a few months ago. Don’t shoot me but I’m not a big Nicholson fan but in this movie he did/fit SO well and everything else about it was delightful too.

        Since I live in a bubble I had no idea if Scream 4 got any hype so as a casual watch I enjoyed it. Yes, I hate it when people hype things up. Despite my Yoda sensors I occasionally fall prey to sensationalism and watch things I know I will regret = Transformers 1, Avatar.

  8. Pingback: SCREAM « Written in Blood

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