Let’s begin with a show of hands…
Who liked the first one? A fair amount of you. Good, good.
Who liked the second one? You all deserve to lose those hands in a wood chipper accident.
Who liked the third one? If anyone asked “they made a third one?” you may pass. The rest, go home and nurse those bleeding stumps, you’re messing up my carpet.
Instead of letting us believe Wes Craven had died of misadventure somewhere in the rainforest and thus raising him upon some Olympian pedestal, we have Scream 4. Now, the point of the first film was that the kids who were being killed knew ‘the rules’ and yet die anyway. It was ironic, it was clever. The problem with the next two films was that the irony shifted a few letters to idiocy where anyone with a breast-implant infection could use the bacteria’s IQ to get themselves out alive if they wanted to. But they didn’t. Not even with 90% of the original cast there to ask for advice four films later. And one of them is a cop. His safety promotion skills leave much to be desired, and yet he’s actually promoted to sheriff by the fourth film.
What about the rest of the cast? Well, Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) has made her money writing books about Sydney (Neve Campbell) while her cheeks sink so deep that the insides touch together. All the while Sydney is using her previous exploits to release self-help books. Apparently the survivors of serial killers are an untapped demographic. Who can’t come home on the anniversary of your mother’s death, the same day that all your friends were butchered on three previous years, to release a book about the same subject and not expect something to go badly? It’s a good job channelling her positivity has turned her into a bad ass. Throughout the film she outright hunts the mask-wearing nutter, ready to deliver some kung-fu stylings.
And here come the newbies…I’m not going to lie to you, I don’t remember half of them. Let’s just assume they end up butchered and have done with it. There are the obligatory movie-geeks however, who explain the rules for all those not paying attention for the last decade. And there is Haden Panettiere who manages to save the movie (no, that’s not sarcasm). It’s not because she’s excruciatingly hot (although, it doesn’t hurt), but because she’s the only one out of the new cast members who actually act. And she acts her little balls off. In every scene with the other girls, you can just tell they’re waiting for her to emote so they can copy. It’s just a shame she’s obviously twenty years older than the other 16 year olds. Seriously, Hayden, play with someone your own age. Then call me. Please.
The plot is basically a series of events that leads you to believe every single character in the film could be the killer. There are more red herrings than Captain Birdseye’s Murder Mystery Boat Trip. Everyone’s got a motive and no one ever knows where anyone else is.
Am I making this sound like a complaint? I’m sorry. I’m misleading you. The film is actually extremely watchable. Updating itself with the use of mobile apps, webcams and other such gadgets is a good move. Say what you like, but Craven always has his finger on the pulse with things like that. The old characters, aside from being made to jump through hoops for the sake of throwing you off the scent, are back and are truly faithful. I still like every one of them as much as in the first film. Courteney Cox is even made to play a washed up has-been which can’t have been much of a stretch for her. The undertones of a disquiet marriage between her and David Arquette are kind of amusing to watch.
Now the important part. The Killer. Oh, who can it be? Where shall our heroine turn this time? Well, it could be anyone. Literally. If you guess it before the end, it’s a fluke. As well as the original cast, we have Sydney’s PA who is a bit wierd, Dewey’s deputy who has the hots for him, and Sydney’s younger cousin who has major Neve-envy. But the important part is that the killer is back to the original form. When in the ‘ghost-face’ costume, the murderer gets the literal shit kicked out of him/her throughout the whole film. That’s one of the many reasons I loved Scream. The murderer didn’t walk around with godlike efficiency like Myers or Vorhees. He got smacked in the face with a fridge, and kept on coming!
Overall, Scream 4 is a good watch. It won’t change your life or reaffirm your faith in Craven but I can think of worse ways to spend an hour and half. Being employed as Courteney Cox’s facial panel-beater being one of them.
“A few screams, a few groans.”