If you’re a Scream aficionado such as myself, then not only are you well-versed in the rules to survive a horror movie, but you’ve been waiting anxiously for the past 10 years to be reunited with Ghostface and the sheer horror that comes from the sound of a phone ringing. After the undeniable train wreak that was Scream 3, it was very easy to have low expectations for Scream 4–after all, once the sequels start to get bad, it’s almost always a downhill ride from there. Or to quote one of the new characters: “Sequels just don’t know when to stop” (wink wink). But one of the saving elements that revitalized Scream 4 was the introduction of a new generation. Because lets face it, for some reason it’s much more fun to see good-looking teens stalked by a masked killer than those already BFF’s with botox (I’m looking at you, Courtney Cox). Setting the story into motion is the return of Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell). She’s come back to Woodsboro to promote her new self-help book “Out of the Darkness”. Of course, it’s her return that will plunge this poor town back into the darkness all over again (why, oh why, does anyone still live in Woodsboro?!). The new set of targets are Sidney’s niece, Jill (Emma Roberts) and her friends, with standout performances from Hayden Panettiere as the sexy best friend and Rory Culkin as one of the new film geeks. In addition to Sidney, we’re also reunited with surviving veterans Gale (Courtney Cox) and Dewey (David Arquette)…let the slashing begin!
One of the things that made the original Scream so great was its blend of horror and comedy. Scream 4 takes on this challenge, and for the most part succeeds–with the exception of a few instances in which the screenwriters lost their footing and combined the two in a “spoofy”, (although some may view it as “self-aware”), way. On more than one occasion a character blurts out a “joke” right before dropping to their demise, Scary Movie style. When Ghostface is wielding that butcher knife I don’t want jokes, I want to be watching the film through my fingers while my heart is pounding uncontrollably, a la that famous Drew Barrymore opening death in Scream. But don’t worry–we still get some hella scary sequences where you’ll be biting your nails trying to anticipate when Ghostface is going to jump into the frame. Super fans of the franchise will be delighted by the constant homage that is paid to the original, as well as the fresh twists this new technology-obsessed generation bring to the table (they even have a Ghostface voice app on their cells, how cool is that?!)
At times I found it hard to wrap my head around the fact that this horror-movie-loving group did things even stupider than their predecessors…not to mention that they take the reality that their friends and peers have been slashed to pieces and gutted really (and I mean really) lightly and are still more than down to party and watch horror flicks. Where’s their humanity?! But then again, ’tis a mark of the genre, I guess. With a much appreciated increase in the number of chilling phone calls, more tongue-in-cheek humor, a clever and surprising opening, and the biggest body count yet, Scream 4 brings us the best Scream film since the original…while leaving every element of Scream 3 in the body bag where it belongs.
Lauren Cohen may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.