Reviewed by: Christopher Walker
murder in the Bible
Every time you buy a movie ticket or rent a video you are casting a vote telling Hollywood “That’s what I want.” Why does Hollywood continue to promote immoral programming? Are YOU part of the problem? Answer
Are we living in a moral Stone Age? Answer
sin and depravity
Kristen Bell … Chloe
Hayden Panettiere … Kirby Reed
Emma Roberts … Jill Roberts
Adam Brody … Detective Hoss
Heather Graham … Casey
Lucy Hale … Sherrie
Anna Paquin … Rachel
David Arquette … Dewey Riley
Courteney Cox … Gale Weathers-Riley
Alison Brie … Rebecca Walters
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Corvus Corax Productions
Wes Craven … producer
Iya Labunka … producer
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“New decade. New rules!”
To gear up for the fourth in the series, I re-watched the first “Scream” movie. I was too young to see it in the theater, as I was in high school, but it was my first insight into the horror movie genre. Looking back at the movie when viewing it again, I found Wes Craven’s film to be both ground-breaking while being both scary and humorous at the same time. The kids in the film watch horror films and know the rules, yet the irony is they have no idea they’re truly in a horror film and end up getting killed anyway. Kevin Williamson’s script was masterful, with all the pop culture references, and Craven’s masterful direction made it work, after all, he knows the ground rules because he made several of them before this movie—“Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Last House on the Left,” and “The Hills Have Eyes.”
It is now 10 years after the release of “Scream 3,” and I can finally go see this and review it as an adult now. The question: does “Scream 4” live up to the hype? The answer: Yes and no. “Scream 4” takes place a decade after the last movie, and the pop culture references are evident. This time, however, Craven decides to take a jab at the inevitable numerous sequels/remakes/reboots craze, in which, as one character puts it, everything in the horror movie rule book is thrown out the window, and a new set of rules are formed: there are no rules, everyone is privy to be next. And, yes, the original crew, including series’ writer Kevin Williamson, returns.
It is, also, a time to see what past characters are up to, and new characters are introduced: Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), the survivor of the previous films, has returned to Woodsboro on the last leg of her book tour, while Dewey (David Arquette) is now Sheriff and married to Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox). Gale has become bored with her life in Woodsboro and has developed a case of writer’s block. Sidney’s arrival occurs on the 10th anniversary of the last group of killings, and, when she comes back to the town she thought she left behind, the body count begins again (which makes Gale happy, as she will have something new to write about now).
The new group of suspects include Sidney’s cousin Jill Roberts (Emma Roberts), her “horror cinema geek” friends Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere) and Olivia Morris (Marielle Jaffe), blog nerds Charlie Walker (Rory Culkin) and Robbie Mercer (Erik Knudsen), Sidney’s publicist (Allison Brie), Deputy Judy Hicks (Marley Shelton), who knew Sidney from her high school days, and last, but not least, Jill’s creepy ex, Trevor Sheldon (Nico Tortorella).
The opening sequence shows promise, with its commentary on the state of horror films now days, with all the sequels and torture porn (and also comments on the recent Facebook craze, which was a great setup). It loses its commentary only halfway into the film and evolves much like a straight-out, no holds-barred horror film, but the commentary comes back in its neat twist ending that this reviewer did not see coming.
The reason this film works, and the reason this series continues to work, aside from the pop culture commentary/references, is that both Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson continue to focus on character development; something desperately lacking in most horror films now days. Whereas the original trilogy movies were two hours each, this movie runs below the 100 minute mark (minus the credits), which is sad: this was one movie that I would’ve liked to have seen run at least 15 or 20 more minutes, as some of the action felt a little rushed. Some characters are overused, while I felt some characters were underused, as well (Dewey and Emma Roberts come to mind).
In my honest opinion, this doesn’t live up to the original (most movies don’t), but, in terms of sequels, this is probably the best since the second movie. The series took a dark, sinister-like tone unlike the light subtlety of the original films (clearly seen in most of the film’s night shots and the climactic sequence), and, overall, becomes a worthy addition to the “Scream” series (and, by the way, all of Craven’s above-mentioned works have been remade).
Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Extreme (at least 33 “f” words, plus many misuses of God’s names, including “Jesus,” “Jesus Christ,” OMG (6), “Oh GD” (4), “For GD sakes,” “G-damn,” etc.) / Sex/Nudity: Heavy
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.