Scream 4 opens with a parody of a parody of a parody… of itself. It sets its store out early to leave us in no doubt as to its intentions; this movie is all about the sequels. From the opening movie within a movie shots, lampooning the ‘Stab’ movies, the movies of the events from Scream 1, 2 and 3 (try to keep up…) while constantly firing barbs at countless horror franchises, Scream 4 doesn’t let up.
Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is back in Woodsboro for the first time in ten years. She’s back to promote her self-help book, a riposte to all the hype that has surrounded her since the killings years before. In Woodsboro, Dewey (David Arquette) is now the town Sheriff and Gale (Courtney Cox) is now retired from journalism as a result of her hugely successful books about the Woodsboro murders. However Sidney’s appearance in town seems to have brought about a copycat ‘Ghostface’ killer.
Sidney stays with her sister Kate (Mary McDonnell) and niece Jill (Emma Roberts) who is receiving calls from the killer, the calls say that Jill and her friends (Hayden Panettiere etc) will be killed next. Within minutes her next door neighbour Olivia (Marielle Jaffe) is killed before their eyes. They all receive Police protection but as expected that only leads to the Policemen’s deaths, preceded by a humorous interchange about cops on protection duty dying in movies. Cue a steady stream of killings by Ghostface.
Just in case we’re not getting it, there’s the obligatory horror geeks explaining how the rules have changed, in sequels there have to be more killings, in more inventive ways, there has to be a party for the finale, but in the sequel this is a premise to the real finale… this aspect of the movie although fun in a nerdy way becomes a little tedious and I must admit I was willing these guys to be killed next.
After the dreadful Scream 3 this particular franchise seemed to be dead. The horror genre had moved on, ‘girls locked in basements and torture porn’ were in vogue, slasher film fare was old hat and unfortunately the awful ‘Scary movie’ series seemed to be where the kids were getting their horror laughs… although for the life of me I can’t fathom why.
The original cast members all slip back into their roles easily and the new kids are all fairly good, particularly Hayden Panettiere and Emma Roberts who is good in her best role yet.
Kevin Williamson is back as scriptwriter and does a good job throwing all the clichés in there and making them work; he and director Wes Craven are obviously having fun deconstructing the genre again.
Not great but better than Scream 3 and the slew of awful horror remakes and other franchise sequels we’ve had thrown at us by the studios over the last decade. A good laugh, this is more of a black comedy than horror movie but still contains enough decent slasher moments to keep horror fans happy.
Quality: 3 out of 5 stars
Any good: 3 out of 5 stars