Reviewed by Samuel Park on April 14, 2011
presents a film directed
by Wes Craven
Written by Kevin Williamson
Starring: Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Marley Shelton & Alison Brie
Running Time: 111 minutes
Released: April 14, 2011
Scream 4 picks up 10 years after the events of the previous film and Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is living a life without fear, due largely to her writing, and has returned to Woodsboro to promote her self-help book book. The Ghost Face killer has other plans though, and once again begins to terrorise the town on the 15th anniversary of the original killings. Sherriff Dewey Riley (David Arquette) and Gale Weathers-Riley (Courtney Cox) are both along for the ride as well as a whole host of new characters, such as Jill Roberts (Emma Roberts), Sidney's young cousin, and Jill's friend, Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere). This film is a sequel/reboot to the Scream franchise, which means new rules that the characters will need to learn in order to survive. Like the previous Scream films this film is hyper aware of itself as a film and its position within popular culture.
Before I explain all the things I loved about this film, I feel the need to justify the 8/10 rating. I am basing it upon my undying love for this series of films. For those less partial to it's self-referential blend of comedy and horror, a lower score may be appropriate. For comparison, I would have rated the original Scream 10/10, while Scream 2 and Scream 3 would not have faired quite as well. Scream 3 proved the dangers of making sequels and remakes, its lacklustre writing and the fatigue of the entire franchise did nothing for it.
Thankfully Scream 4 manages to avoid these pitfalls, largely due to the length of time it has been since the last film. It feels fresh and new, despite the fact that it is seemingly rehashing old material. I attribute this to the fact that this film has the writer of the first two films back on board, Kevin Williamson, and once again he has managed to recapture the magic of the franchise.
This isn't a perfect film - for instance the acting is somewhat wooden - yet I can't help but love its constantly self-reflexive nature, and the constant cycle of remakes and sequels form the focus of its satire. The references to Saw 4 and the fictional films 'Stab 6' and 'Stab 7' within the opening easily establishes this awareness. This film however goes beyond referencing other slasher films and references the original Scream and the associated cultural phenomenon. Deputy Judy Hicks (Marley Shelton) was the most obvious of these (for those who haven't quite got it yet, Deputy Judy sounds very similar to Deputy Dewey), and Kills looks strikingly similar to Neve Campbell. Wes Craven wants us to see this as a reboot of the original film, and the franchise, with a twist for modern audiences.
Audiences are expected to have an understanding not only of slasher and horror films but also an intimate knowledge of the previous films in the franchise and the characters. Anyone who enjoyed the original Scream will find something to love here; even if it is simply to relive the joy of hanging out with the three main character. I know joy is strange word to use to describe a slasher film but this film brings out the inner nerd who me who likes to think of himself as a slight horror film buff (though I'm sure I would be put to shame if my knowledge was ever tested by Ghost Face). The constant references made me laugh out loud, along with the rest of the audience, and I did find myself gripping the chair at several points throughout. Overall this is a clever, funny and frightening film. It's fun to watch but you do need to be a fan of the Scream movies to get the most out of it.