Once upon a time, the father of all slasher movies Halloween had two children named Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street. The latter film was directed by Wes Craven, one of Hollywood’s most influential of all horror directors. Years after his successful slasher was famous, he went back to his creation and saw that it was ruined and milked dry by corporate douchebags who spawned many shitty sequels. He tried to atone for that with New Nightmare but surprisingly good as that movie was, it still wasn’t able to revitalize the now stagnant slasher genre he once knew and loved.
Realizing the monster he’s created, he began work with Scream a movie that deconstructed the slasher genre while still remaining a classic entry into it. It was the first movie to balance out scares and thrills with (intentional) laughs and humor to make for one of the most unique horror offerings in a long time. All while poking fun at the many cliches of slashers.
Since then a rather good sequel and a crappy third entry have been released, but since then, the franchise has been dormant for 11 years. But Wes Craven remembered one important rule in the slasher genre: it’s that the killer never dies. Now, he’s back with another serving of self-aware meta humor and gruesome stabbings with Scream 4…or Scre4m as it’s been marketed. After ending on a crappy note the last time with Scream 3, can ScreFourm bring back what made the first two films good?
I’ve always liked the Scream movies. They’re not the best slashers, nor are they the scariest slashers, and if we’re talking about unintentionally funny movies, then I guess they’re not the funniest slashers, but by god they are probably the most entertaining slashers. While the self-awareness of the series can be either a turn-off or horror-movie catnip for certain people, I belong in the latter category. Craven is a guy who simply gets horror, and gets movies. While not all of his films are total direct hits (Before ScreFourm, he made the abysmal My Soul To Take) there’s no denying his passion for the horror genre.
So, it’s plot description time…
Sidney Prescott, survivor of all three movies, is returning to the town of Woodsboro where the original Scream took place for the first time in over ten years. She’s there to just promote her new Oprah style self-help book, meet a few old friends such as Dewey Riley (David Arquette), Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox Arquette), and her cousin Jill (Emma Roberts). All that, however, is quickly put to rest when we see that a new Ghostface killer is back, he’s just murdered two young blondes, and he’s definitely going to stop by again for more intestines to dig deep inside. Now it’s up to the gang and a new batch of teenagers/victims to stop the killer.
Whereas the first movie was a deconstruction of slashers, the second movie was a deconstruction of slasher sequels, and the third movie was trying but failing to be a deconstruction of trilogies, the fourth installment is a deconstruction of reboots and remakes. This time, the killer is hell-bent on remaking the one-upping the original murders from the first movie. The film is also going with this theme of how horror and society in general have changed and evolved within the past decade since Scream 3. The reboot thing we’ve already discussed, but the film also puts an emphasis on our focus on technology, such as web-casting, social networking, and internet fame. It’s an interesting concept that, while isn’t explored entirely, still resonates really well by the end.
One thing I’ve always liked about the Scream saga is that while they’re entertaining slashers, they also work immensely well as “whodunit” style thrillers. And when you do eventually find out whodunit, the revelation is actually very well done, and unexpecting.
The cast does admirably. Courtney Cox is her usual bitchy self, David Arquette’s character has matured and is definitely much less naive than in the first three installments, Neve Campbell gets to shine here as a more badass rebel girl, now that her character isn’t psychologically damaged, and the new cast of characters, such as Emma Roberts and Hayden Panetierre, actually impressed me quite a bit, especially considering Emma Roberts’s shitty track-record of films ’til now.
Speaking of the new cast, the movie does a surprisingly good job of catering to fans of the original trilogy of films, while still being very accessible to newcomers. This is gonna sound weird but…it works equally as well as both a sequel AND a reboot.
If there’s one complaint I have against ScreFOURm, it’s that it isn’t scary. And for a horror movie that’s not just a complaint, that’s pretty much a death penalty. It doesn’t really matter though considering that it’s more meant to entertain than to scare, and I was undeniably entertained throughout (Despite being a bit overlong). But one thing I always liked about the first two movies was that they balanced the suspense and the comedy well together, and in Scre4m the horror aspect is toned down a bit while the comedy tries to balance that out by being more noticeable. And while there are some laughs to be had, the complete absence of the cat-and-mouse chase scenes of the original is disappointing.
Also, before I end, while the Scream films aren’t necessarily known for their “inventive kills” since 90% of them are pretty much just “stabbing”, I’m just going to spoil my favorite one because I couldn’t resist: A guy is shot in the dick. No really, a guy is shot in the dick, and it is hilarious. Okay, I’m done here…
Final Verdict: If we’re comparing it with the rest of the Scream movies, it’s not up to par with the first one, comparable to the second one, and LEAGUES above the third one. Either way however, if you just want a fun time at the movies, you can definitely do worse. Fans will enjoy it, newcomers will probably enjoy it enough to gain an interest for the original films, and everyone will pretty much just have a good time with it.
That is all.
See ya next time, now if you’ll excuse me, I have to ask, what’s your faaavorite scary movie?