Rating: 2 stars out of 5
It’s been eleven years since Scream 3, the third instalment of the highly successful postmodern horror franchise, and the genre has come quite a way. Found footage, torture porn and Japanese horror films have all come and gone, but Scream 4, while it does do a token diss, goes back to what worked for the franchise.
Working in iPhone apps, Facebook and Twitter that are as haphazardly scattered as the bits about horror subgenres, Scream 4 once again returns to Woodsboro where the first movie was set.
Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), now the author of a self-help book, returns home to Woodsboro on her book tour. There she reconnects with Sheriff Dewey (David Arquette) and Gale (Courteney Cox), who are now married, as well as her cousin Jill (Emma Roberts) and her Aunt Kate (Mary McDonnell).
Predictably, Sidney's appearance also brings about the return of Ghostface, putting Sidney, her friends and the whole town of Woodsboro in danger.
Hayden Panettiere, the cheerleader from Heroes, puts in an appearance as Jill’s friend Kirby. Anna Paquin from True Blood and Kristin Bell have cameos at the beginning of the film, though their cameo still can’t top the opening sequence of the first film with Drew Barrymore,
With the barrage of usual twists and self-references, even Scream 4 has trouble stretching the overdone slasher genre any further. Director Wes Craven pulls out the usual tricks: Screechy audio, jump cuts and look-behind-you scares scattered along with red herrings. Credit does go to Craven for managing to hold suspense rather than just fling blood and guts on the screen, but there’s nothing really new.
Neither Craven nor scriptwriter Williamson can channel the freshness of the first Scream film, and often Scream 4 appears to be parodying itself. It’s all as gory and bloody as before, and most of the characters are just two-dimensional Ghostface fodder, and even the film chides Saw 4 for having no character development it’s guilty for the same.
Only Courtney Cox’s Gale, who sees the killings as an opportunity for her to reignite her flagging career, comes across as a character with any depth. Needless to say, the motivation for the killings is just as bizarre as before.
Fans of the series will undoubtedly devour and enjoy this, but the joke and the meta-study of horror and the series itself doesn’t really enter any new ground; even the take on blogging and found footage, which Craven teases us with, are never fully developed. Yes, the rules have changed, but most appear to have stayed the same.