Monday, August 1, 2011
Scream 4 (or Scre4m if you're down with the kids) review
Ten years on from Scream 3, Wes Craven returns to Woodsboro to reboot the Scream franchise. Along for the ride are the writer Kevin Williamson and the original core cast members. Much as happened in the horror genre since the last Scream movie, arguably the most significant events have been the explosion of the "torture porn" genre led by the Saw series and the proliferation of horror remakes of relatively recent horror films. Both of these subjects are playfully poked at by Kevin Williamson's pen throughout the movie's running time.
Sidney (Neve Campbell) returns to Woodsboro on the last leg of a tour to promote her new self help book. Once home she meets up with Dewey (David Arquette) and Gale (Courteney Cox) who are now married. Sidney's appearance coincides with the return of Ghostface, who is once again targeting those close to Sidney including her niece Jill (Emma Roberts).
As a fan of the first two Scream movies (The less said about part three the better!) I was cautiously optimistic for the fourth entry in the series. Unfortunately, while significantly better than the third film, I found Scream 4 pretty disappointing. It starts off quite promisingly, with a fun opening and some real energy but this soon evaporates and the film quickly starts to feel tired, prompting everyone to force the issue and start trying too hard.
Williamson's script has a few good jabs at the current state of the genre, I just feel the whole schtick worked better when it was more focused in the first two entries. Scream targeted the 80's slasher films and Scream 2 their sequels. Here the film gets bogged down trying to satirise too many things and becomes a jumbled mess of ideas that never completely nails any of them.
Craven never manages to reach the heights of suspense achieved in the first two movies, instead we get an increase in the gore quotient, perhaps trying to appeal to the fans of the Saw and Hostel movies? This adds little to the movie in real terms though.
The cast slip back into their roles very comfortably and it was fun to see David Arquette's Dewey again, now as the sheriff of Woodsboro. The rest of the cast of mostly TV talent all do okay, with Community's Alison Brie having probably the best role (and death!) as Sydney's bitchy publicist.
Did we really need to return to Woodsboro again? To my disappointment the answer is no. While not a terrible film, it feels laboured and frankly a little unnecessary, like Craven's heart wasn't really in it. The best I can say for the film is, if you like the series it's probably worth a rental. However I can't imagine ever choosing to watch it again for my Scream fix.