It’s hard to believe that it’s been 15 years since that question first struck fear into the residents of Woodsboro. In “Scream 4” all your favorites that you’ve come to know and love, are back. Sidney (Neve Campbell) has written a self-help book and wraps up her promotional tour in her hometown on the anniversary of the Woodsboro Massacres.
Only, what do you know, good ole’ Ghostface shows up, starts making a few phone calls, and people starting getting real dead — real fast. It’s up to Sheriff Dewey (David Arquette) and Gale (Courteney Cox) to help Sidney catch the killer, again, before he can slaughter everyone in town, again, including Sid’s cousin Jill (Emma Roberts) and all of her friends.
Sound Familiar? Of course it does. If you’ve seen “Scream 1,2 or 3,” or any other slasher flick, you know exactly how this is supposed to go. The director, Wes Craven, knows this and takes full advantage of the typical horror movie cliches you’ll be expecting. He’ll even have the characters point them out to you as you’re watching the movie.
“Scream” and it’s subsequent sequels have always been about establishing the “rules” of a horror movie (i.e. never say “I’ll be right back,” the killer’s never really dead, virgins always live, etc.) and then breaking them.
That’s what was always so great about the “Scream” franchise. It’s irreverent, self-aware, and self-deprecating. It walks a fine line between horror and homage. The line can get a little blurry at times leaving some people to wonder if “Scream” is a real movie or a spoof.
For example, within the “Scream” world you have the “Stab” movies which are nothing but parodies of the “Scream” movies. The opening of “Scream 4” is actually the opening of “Stab 6” which is really the opening of “Stab 7.” You get this whole inceptiony movie, within a movie, within a movie thing going on that’s hilarious and a great excuse to see a lot of inconsequential blonds bleeding out.
Now, in anyone else’s hands, being able to predict who’s the next to get sliced-and-diced would be really boring. Yet, somehow Craven is able to tell you exactly what he’s going to do and still surprise you.
The audience I saw the movie with was very participatory and besides the round of applause when Dewey first appeared, and the unified sighing each time a character thought they could outrun the killer with a stab wound in the chest, there was a collective gasp when the killer was finally revealed. I didn’t think “Scream” had any shocks left.
I still jumped when Ghostface popped up. I still cringed when someone’s carotid got slashed. And I still laughed hysterically at the references to the horror movie “rules.”
My problems with the film are minor. As much as I love all the in-jokes, sometimes “Scream 4” can be a little too self-aware. The incessant references to Ghostface apps for your cell phone gets a little old. Plus, in a world where there are approximately 20 gagillion different ringtones, why does everyone in Woodsboro have the same one?
If you are a fan of the “Screams” than I highly recommend this latest installment. If you haven’t seen any of them, then you probably don’t care and won’t go see this one. In comparison, it’s not as good as the first one, but better than the third.
So I’ll ask you again, what’s your favorite scary movie?