♣♣♣ out of ♣♣♣♣♣
Did you ever think that a fourth movie in a franchise would ever be as good as the original? Well the master of horror, Wes Craven has outdone himself in this, the fourth in the Scream franchise. 11 years after the original, groundbreaking, Scream, the Ghostface killer is back to hack and slash his way through a great cast of characters. In fact, everyone who survived from the first few movies is back, including Neve Campbell, David Arquette, and Courtney Cox.
If you liked the first movies, you are gonna love this one. Writer Kevin Williamson packs in the jabs left and right, ribbing on movies like Saw, ANY RECENT PG-13 “HORROR” MOVIE, and more importantly, itself. Wes Craven has not done many films in the past few years, but most of them have been solid thrillers… Scream 4 is NO exception. If you haven’t seen 2005’s Red Eye, with Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy, go yourself a favor a watch it, soon. Craven also put out the much-hated My Soul To Take from last year, but it was not as bad as many critics said.
As one of the creators of the genre, Wes Craven hasn’t lost touch with what is fresh, funny, and even better – scary. The new cast, including Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, and Marielle Jaff, is in high-form as they answer phones, run around the house scared, and open doors at the exact moment they should not. What else do you need? The fun of the Scream movies has always been that the characters have seen every scary movie, and they constantly talk about how they’re NOT supposed to walk past that open doorway by themselves lest they get stabbed. Or how closing a refrigerator door can be last call for an unsuspecting teenager. They recall the “rules” from previous films about lewd behavior being precursors to stabbage… but this is the reboot… anything goes… or as one of the characters points out, “In fact these days, to survive a horror movie you pretty much have to be gay.”
By the end of the movie, the body count is ridiculously high, and with just enough “motivation” from the killer(s?) to tell why… but it still feels slapped on… like that last re-write that the studio had someone do of Williamson’s script was just one re-write too many. (Kevin Williamson, the original “Scream”-play writer expressed frustration at the multiple re-writes that was done on his script after he turned it in). What does work is the constant satire of everything from social media to mobile phones… the writers use Scream’s platform to deliver heaps and heaps of tongue-in-cheek humor, even ripping on itself (through the fictional “Stab” movies that are based on the books “written” about the original murders). The media attention the murders create and the lampooning that aspect of the story provides, are hilarious.
Is catharsis really what we’re here for? Or are we just here to watch a bunch of clever teens get freaked out, become less clever, and be brutally stabbed to death one at a time? Wes Craven is amping up the gore here by the way, the deaths are effective, the camera lingers just a moment or two too long after stabbings, and it adds the twinge of disturbing to the mix. The jokes aside, some of these deaths are just brutal. Craven has always had a way of being one of the only filmmakers to force you to feel the violence up close and personal. There were several moments where I could feel the panic of the victims, the sheer terror as the knife sinks home. It was disturbing, hilarious, scary, and just plain fun.
Scream 4 hits that perfect aim, right between horror and spoof where the line gets blurred. The worst (or the best) part is Wes Craven is so talented, he gets us even when we’re expecting it. That’s the test of a true horror-master, to be able to keep the audience holding it’s breath long enough to scare it out of them… all right in front of their very eyes. The performances are good, and some of them are great. Neve Campbell has always been a gifted actress, and Hayden Panettiere (Claire from Heroes) is perfect as the sassy and adorable friend Kirby, sporting the best haircut I’ve seen in a movie this year.
So if you don’t like Scream, you probably won’t like this movie, and hell, you’re probably not still reading… so I’ll shut up. I recommend Scream 4 for all of the genre fanboys and old school slasher freaks, this one is a throwback worth keeping. Still, I don’t think I can do a Scream 5.