Review: Craven's 'Scream 4' Embraces New Breed & Blood
April 14th, 2011 9:45am EDT
Pretty much like most of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, it was inevitable that Hollywood would wind up presenting us with either a remake or additional installment to one of its financially beneficial and cult-creating films ever to hit the world of filmmaking. Craven’s slasher porn generated so much scratch, it was quite mind-boggling Dimension Films dragged for a period of over ten (10) years before dusting off their golden nugget. Gratefully, the comeback approach entailed Wes Craven and original writer Kevin Williamson, oh, and whatever surviving cast remained from the franchise that pretty much are a couple of years from submitting their retirement docs. And while the fourth (4th) chapter doesn’t re-invent the wheel-of-doom, it’s far more entertaining than anything the Crave has done since the first piece!
Freckle-face Sidney Prescott (Freckle-face Campbell), has seen some heavy-hitting crap in her life. Of course the root of all that insanity pertains to her whore mom, whose actions gave birth to several psychopathic Ghost-faced killers who have murdered more folks than Al-Qaeda’s global horrid acts of terrorism, and done in the name of “revenge.” Sid is soaking up her fame due to her diarrhea-of-the-mouth/book about having survived three (3) consecutive bloody rages, and her final stop to her book tour is her hometown of Woodsboro, where the murders in the first film took place. However, no quicker than you can imagine after reuniting with survivors Dewey (Arquette) and Gale (Cox), she’s also introduced to an entirely new string of murders which seem a wee bit all too familiar to her among a new breed of high school kids. Why? Well, in the name of “rehashing” the murders that placed the hick town on the map.
Hogging up screen time—rather than her cameo-like role in what was the crappiest of all installments ‘SCREAM 3’—Campbell makes a welcoming comeback to her character and pulls off a pretty decent job retouching the heroine as one tough broad survivor who is a lot more focused moving towards the killer, rather than scatter. As for the supporting cast of virginally-faced Woodsboro high school teens—LOOKING like actual teens and not rundown college dropouts—hold their own weight when presenting their roles and shun the annoying hipster types we’re so use to in these types of movies.
If there’s one thing the cast of ‘SCREAM 4’ can’t complain about is a “movie moment.” Every single ego in the cast is provided with a great moment, but the disappointment is that the chemistry within Campbell, Cox and Arquette—the ringleaders of this franchise—is so dull this time around, I felt embarrassed for them while sitting and watching this film. It doesn’t help that Dewey and Gale have been trimmed back to the roles they presented in the first, which means they mostly take a back seat to the new cast of snot-nosed punks who barely know how to wipe their own rear.
In a way, this installment offers a very depressing commentary on horror since the last decade is only known for endless remakes and flat-lining sequels. From its subversive opening sequence, it’s obvious that Williamson has all the ammunition he needs to lampoon the horror genre all over again—which includes the self-referential flicks he popularized—and he does it well. Despite the production’s well reported problems and darkened numerous rewrites, Williamson’s presence is all up in this film, and ‘SCREAM 4’ finds far more clever ways of making fun of itself than any of those unfunny ‘SCARY MOVIE’ spoofs. (Well, I’ll take it back as I really enjoyed the first one and first one ONLY!) The drawback is that this time the humor works better and sometimes against the suspense of the actual piece.
Living up to contemporary times, ‘SCREAM 4’ is also the darkest and bloodiest of the series I think, displaying kills that stretch a bit longer and a hell of a lot more vile. And while I simply hate the remake trend and glad to see Craven and Williamson shred it, this is also presented as a double-edged sword. (When you’ll see it, you’ll see what I mean) The remake theme means that everything in ‘SCREAM 4’ embellishes back to the first movie, therefore, consistently living in the shadows of the original. And the result doesn’t make you feel like you’re actually watching something fresh…just reviewing in different form.
Don’t misread what I’ve written, because it’s not to say that Craven and Co. did a crappy job, however, the limits to the slasher genre are clearly seen. There are only so many ways Ghost-face can freaking buzz someone prior to popping out for a kill, and no matter how many spoofs or subliminal references they throw in, there’s still that sense we’re running the all-too-familiar gauntlet once again.
Setting all these downers aside, the film provides plenty to enjoy and thrive on. At the very least, it’s a far more entertaining series chapter than the mentally retarded ‘SCREAM 3’—it kept the franchise safe from straight to DVD hell. I’m sure this film will hold its own at the box office this weekend. As a whole, ‘SCREAM 4’ may work and serve better as a cynical black comedy than an actual horror flick.
GRADE: C+ / GENRE: Horror / ROARS: 3.25 out of 5
RATED: R / RUN TIME: 1 Hr. 43 Min.
STARRING: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere
DIRECTOR: Wes Craven
(Opens Friday, April 15, 2011)
Related: Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Neve Campbell, Scream, Scream 2, Scream 3, Scream 4, Wes Craven, Starpulse Exclusives, Movie Reviews, Movie Trailers, Movie Spotlight
Photo Credits: The Weinstein Company Inc.