Scream 4by Linda Stupart / 29.07.2011
The last time I watched a Scream movie at a theatre was ten years ago. The (then) trilogy was screened back to back, with the last movie, accompanying free Red Bull, starting at midnight. It was super exciting, and super scary and funny. But then again I was a teenager, the energy drinks were novel and, also, the movies were also actually good.
Ok, so I can’t actually remember Scream 3, but the first two movies were truly memorable in that they managed to simultaneously make fun of a genre while still being a successful example of that genre. Basically, these were really scary Slasher films that were also really funny and self-referential, constantly naming their own formulas even as they were played out in the script.
The new movie, though, just tries way too hard, and leaves Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson looking about as savvy as your mom when she first discovered Facebook. The movie opens with an extensive film within a film within a film within a film narrative referencing the ‘Stab’ movies based on the books written by Gail Weathers (Courtney Cox) about the Ghostface murders of the Scream Films. It’s quite funny, scary at times, but also very long and achingly Postmodern, or ‘meta’ (do people really say this? It makes me feel quite nauseous, but maybe I’m just getting old), a term that comes up a few times in the movie. Mostly, it’s just pretty boring.
And the rest of the movie is no different. Scream 4 follows three of the original characters, Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell), Deputy Dewey (David Arquette) and Gail Weathers (Courteney Cox) through an almost identical plot to the other movies: Sydney has now returned to promote her self-help book about not being a victim, and, remarkably, Ghostface comes back and starts killing people, mostly chasing after Sydney, who runs away and looks scared as well as she did in the first six hours of the franchise. The movie also stars Emma Roberts, a really annoying girl from one of those tedious Nickelodeon shows, in which she sings about being a thirteen year old, as well as the forgotten, unattractive Culkin brother (Rory).
Otherwise, nothing much really happens. People get killed in the same order and in the same ways as the first movie, which seems more like lazy script-writing than clever irony to me, and also makes me wonder if this is actually meant to be a sequel or a remake of the first movie for people too young to have seen the original. Either way, Scream 4 falls short.
There are a few references to contemporary technology, like ‘web-cams’, but these are hack and dated, and are never really explored in the film, in the same way that references to more contemporary horror movies, like Saw, fall flat.
I won’t tell you the ending, but you’re unlikely to be particularly surprised. One highlight of the movie, and a piece of advice Williamson and Craven could really have followed themselves is an enraged Sydney shouting to one of the new kids in the film:
“You forgot the first rule of remakes, Jill. Don’t fuck with the original!”