April 15, 2011
Lucy Hale as Sherrie
Dane Farwell as Ghostface
Anna Paquin as Rachel
Neve Campbell as Sidney Prescott
David Arquette as Dewey Riley
Courteney Cox as Gale Weathers-Riley
Scream 4 Has the Look and Feel of the Original Trilogy with the same lead characters and same persistent masked maker of mayhem as the original three. Surprisingly the package still works.
The Scream trilogy has been the subject of much discussion since the release of the first installment in 1996. Some complained that the film was too “formula” and didn’t add anything notable to the horror genre other than “bubblegum” slasher fare. Others enjoyed the fresh twist on the horror formula offered byScream as a parody of the “rules of horror” and a film built specifically around those formula elements that both calls them out and uses them literally as part of the story.
One thing is certain about Scream, though, and that is how the film franchise brought budgets back to horror on the big screen. By combining celebrity cameos, known acting talent, tongue-in-cheek parody and a new horror villain theScream trilogy proved that it was still possible to have high budget horror in movie theaters across the country actually turn a profit. Like Scream or hate Scream, the franchise certainly contributed to a renewed box office interest in horror and possibly the success of popular films like Final Destination, I Know What You Did Last Summer and Halloween H2O.
Scream 4 is Wes Craven’s latest foray into the remake firestorm that has been such a staple of horror over the last decade. The facts that this one was directed by Wes Craven as were installments 1 – 3 and also written by Kevin Williamson who penned Scream and Scream 2(“characters” credit for Scream 3) really shows as the look, feel, language and story development follow the same progression that moviegoers have become accustomed to from a Scream film. Watching Scream 4 is akin to seeing an old friend who hasn’t changed a bit.
Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is back in Woodsboro after 10 years away, promoting a book that chronicles her path to the edge of despair and back into the light of self awareness and peace. Other than Sidney’s publicity agent, unfortunately, most folks are not particularly happy to have her back. Sidney’s young cousin Sherrie (Lucy Hale) and her friends joke that Sidney is the “angle of death” and Gayle Weathers (Courteney Cox) sees Sydney at a book signing and comes face to face with how boring her life has become as Dewey’s (David Arquette) wife in a small town without the bright lights of investigative reporting to give her life meaning.
Someone is thrilled to have Sidney back though – the Ghostface killer. In lockstep with every other appearance of Sidney in Woodsboro her arrival is followed by grisly murders and an intricate whodunit with a cast of possible suspects who will either be revealed as the killer or be killed themselves.
Those familiar with Scream, along with Scream 2 and Scream 3 will undoubtedly be looking for a few trademark elements in this latest installment, and they will be there. The opening scene celebrity cameo, ominous calls from the killer asking “what is your favorite scary movie”, geeky movie buffs explaining the rules of horror, the tale of motive and techniques explained by the surprise killer in the end – all present and accounted for in Scream 4, but each has a unique and specific variation or enhancement in a conscious effort to be more than a simple rehash of theScream formula.
It is very clear that Scream 4 works because of the chemistry between Wes Craven, writer Kevin Williamson and stars Campbell, Cox and Arquette (reported script conflicts during production of 4aside). Thankfully this is not a review about a remake or sequel that has new stars or a new director looking to add their own unique “splash” to the series. That would have been disastrous.
We horror fans could have lived our entire lives happily without another sequel to Scream, or without most sequels and remakes for that matter. Still, if a 10-year-later sequel to Scream HAD to be made, Wes Craven absolutely nailed it. Scream 4 had me leaving the theater with a smile on my face, happy to see that Sidney and the gang have still got it going on.