“Scream 4” Movie Review

     After 11 years, director Wes Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson revisit, remake, and reboot the Scream franchise with the aptly titled "Scream 4". Back are the original surviving characters played by Neve Campbell, David Arquette, and Courtney Cox, as well as several new characters to round out the field for the newer generation of fans.  Being a big fan of the Scream Trilogy meant I had great anticipation for this, the fourth entry and it does not disappoint.  Scream 4 follows a familiar course of events, but is packed full of interesting characters, clever dialogue, and suspenseful sequences.

     With the original Scream having it's characters debating the conventions of horror films, Scream 2 debating the rules of sequels, and Scream 3 debating the nuances of trilogies, it's only fitting the characters in Scream 4 consistently discuss the art of the reboot. And of course while all of these things are being discussed, there is indeed an actual killer on the loose and these debates are occurring as a cornerstone of a characters survival.  With so many remakes and reboots in the past decade, I can see why Craven and Williamson must have been salivating to revisit their famed franchise in order to have some fun in their parallel Scream/Stab world.

     As was established in Scream 2, the storyline revolves around the fact that a series of films called "Stab" were made based on the events of the first three films. In true "Saw" fashion, there now have been 7 "Stab" films made and the events of Scream 4 begin under the following premise. Sidney (Campbell) returns to Woodsboro for a book tour on what happens to be the anniversary of the killings that occurred in the original film.  Soon after her arrival, the killings begin again and so does the fun.  As was the case with the previous films, Scream 4 never takes itself or the genre seriously.  The film is an exercise in pure satire with some characters following normal by the book reactions to certain scary situations with others simultaneously warning them with quips from horror films on how people live and die.

     If anything, Scream 4 feels a lot like the original and by the end, one will likely realize that was done purposely.  I think Craven wanted this to feel like a remake so we would get sucked into following standard Scream/Stab rules and then get zinged during the third act.  I'll only say this.  The conclusion in Scream 4 takes the series to whole other level and contains one of the most memorable one liners of the last decade. 

     While the opening of Scream 4 is as clever as ever, the middle of the film stalls a bit.  I think this is simply because there are so many "scary movie" questions Ghost Face can ask a dimwitted teenager before he/she meets her fate.  The killings follow the same general course as the past films and each is investigated in the same dimwitted fashion by now Sheriff Dewey (Arquette).  In addition, the Gail Weathers character (Cox) doesn't have anything to do but try and get back to her investigative reporter roots and get in the way.  Perhaps Scream 4's biggest flaw is the lack of things to do for two of it's three lead characters.  Fortunately, Sidney injects herself into the situation and the supporting characters, especially the two film geeks from the school's Film Club, are all up to the task delivering funny, yet mysterious performances.

     I'm not so sure that another Scream film ever needs to be made again, but the timing and subject matter for this entry make it work well.  While it is rare the fourth entry in a franchise is ever really any good (Batman and Robin anyone?), Scream 4 breaks that rule as well, all the while poking fun at the many horror sequels and remakes made in the last 10 years.  While some may not agree, when it comes to movies, there is just something to be said about going and having a mindless good time and Scream 4 delivers that and then some. I don't know why, but that "film geek" dialogue just makes me smile. GRADE: B