Saturday, January 07, 2017
Scream 4 (2011)
DIRECTOR: Wes Craven
WRITER: Kevin Williamson
Ten years have passed since the horrific events that took place in Hollywood. Sidney Prescott has moved on with her life and is now a published author who has written a self-help book. Her last stop on her national book tour is the town of Woodsboro. This is where all of the tragic events first began. When she arrives back in town, a masked killer starts to brutally murder all of those closest to Sidney Prescott which throws the entire town of Woodsboro into danger.
When it was announced that Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson were finally giving us Scream 4, I was absolutely ecstatic. Being that the original Scream trilogy came out when I was a pre-teen, and the sequels were subsequently released during my teen years, they held a special place in my heart. In a way, they are the reason why I love and adore horror cinema like I do today. I didn't grow up loving horror, I was actually terrified of the films I had seen up until that point. Scream was the one that bridged the gap between horror and comedy, scary yet comedic.
With Scream 3, I honestly believed that the trilogy and franchise had come full circle. I never thought that we would see another Scream movie. The third film wrapped up the story incredibly well. So over the eleven years that the franchise lay dormant, the horror scene had changed dramatically. We witnessed the torture porn fad come and go, we saw a considerable rise in reboots, remakes, and revivals. We also saw a lot of horror franchises outstay their welcome with a lot of countless and terrible sequels.
With the return of original writer Kevin Williamson, we were at least guaranteed that he would be able to successfully inject the next instalment with the same smarts and cleverness that made the first Scream and its sequel so great. It sort of restored my faith and made me anticipate the next film much more. While I enjoyed Scream 3, it is well known that Ehren Kruger being brought on as the writer and all the production troubles and rewrites were some of the most significant issues that Scream 3 faced.
When I first witnessed Scream 4 in theatres, I walked out of the film really enjoying it. I think it was the nostalgia of seeing the three main characters returning in their roles. The movie is set back in the original town of Woodsboro and the fact that this entry turned out to be the goriest and most brutal movie in the series, It was a rush being able to see all these things come together after so long. It felt like my teenage years had come flooding back.
After repeated viewings of Scream 4, I initially gave the film an eight out of ten when it was released. I thought it was on par with Scream 2 at that time. As the years have passed and I've continued to watch and revisit it, the faults in the film have become a lot more apparent. While the movie is more enjoyable than Scream 3. Scream 4 just doesn't hold up like Scream and Scream 2 on repeated viewings. The film is still a lot of fun though regarding being a bloody and entertaining slasher.
The most significant problem that befalls Scream 4 is tone. The movie tries to give us equal doses of comedy and suspense, and like Scream 3, it sadly suffers. The original trailers for the film looked intense, dark and a lot more scary than the previous entry. The marketing team behind the film were smart as they left out any of those cheesy jokes that were littered throughout. With the amount of comedy that is injected into the story, it killed any suspense. A lot of the chases, deaths and scarier moments are lessened by these unnecessary jokes being added.
What Scream 4 does get right is that the movie really delivers on the gore and blood. This film gives us some incredibly bloody kills. This time, Ghostface wasn't messing around. Scream 4 gives us easily the most unstoppable Ghostface. Instead of toying with the characters, it feels like the killer is more proactive. The killer just brutalises and attacks. The killer doesn't give a shit about cops being stationed outside houses, they come to the front door and attack. Even the phone calls felt more threatening this time around. I loved that about Scream 4.
The acting is once again fantastic from all three leads. By the fourth time around, the character arcs for Sidney, Dewey, and Gale all feel wonderfully fleshed out. I enjoyed that Sidney was at a point in her life where she has overcome her terrible past. I liked that Gale has given up journalism to be a full-time writer. I also loved that Dewey was now the sheriff of Woodsboro. All three actors are still lovable fifteen years later. You root for these characters to survive the latest ordeal.
The supporting cast in the film is hit and miss for me. Emma Roberts and Rory Culkin overact in their scenes, and their performances almost took me out of the moment. I feel Nico Tortorella, Adam Brody, Anthony Anderson, Marley Shelton, and Alison Brie suffer from the same problem. The comedy turns all their performances from serious into silly. I believe the standouts in the film are Hayden Panettiere, Britt Robertson, Lucy Hale, Kristen Bell and Anna Paquin. A lot of these are all smaller roles, but they really do leave their mark in the film.
Lastly, Scream 4 has some solid moments that are worth recognising. The very meta opening is the standout. A much better opening than Cotton Weary's rather bloodless death in Scream 3. The stab-a-thon, Olivia's brutal death scene, the final killer reveal, and Gale Weathers barn attack. I also loved the addition of the cinema club and the new decade, new rules. I think had the movie ended before the hospital attack scene was tacked on and left the series open-ended and a bit bleaker, it may have played entirely different.
DEATH TOLL: 15
BLOOD AND GORE:
- People are stabbed in the back.
- Someone is shot in the penis and head.
- People are stabbed in the stomach.
- Someone is stabbed in the heart and stomach.
- Someone is stuck in the chest.
- A woman has their throat slashed.
- Someone is stabbed in the stomach and thrown through a glass door.
- Someone is crushed by a garage door and stabbed.
- A person is repeatedly stabbed and disembowelled.
- Someone is stabbed and thrown off the top of a parking garage.
- A police officer is stabbed in the forehead.
- Someone is repeatedly stabbed to death.
- Someone is stuck in the shoulder.
- The killer throws themselves through a glass table.
- Someone gets a defibrillator to the head and shot her in the heart.
Scream 4 was a slight return to form. Gorier and more entertaining than Scream 3, the movie is sadly not as good as the brilliant Scream, or it's very impressive sequel Scream 2. The film loses points with its wildly uneven tone being more comedic which downplays all of the tension, suspense, and scares. Some abysmal acting from some of the supporting cast and an ending that feels tacked on after the reshoots. Scream 4 still fits well within the Scream franchise, and I hope that we one day get a Scream 5. Without Wes Craven, this may never happen, though.