Scream 4 is the film entry in the series I’ve seen the least number of times. In a way, that makes it the freshest.
I remember at the time wondering if the film would have any actual relevance, because Craven had already ingeniously parodied the tropes, clichés and conventions of the slasher film, the all too inevitable sequel AND the equally inevitable moment when a beloved film character becomes a franchise.
Returning to the concept over a decade later, I couldn’t help but feel that the Scream films were actually about to become the very thing they were commenting upon.
I couldn’t have been further from the actual point if I tried.
The long gap lent itself perfectly to one final comment on the state of the horror movie as it was in 2011 (and to an extent still is…)
A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th and Halloween were all rebooted/reimagined with retold origins at around this time. What better time for the late Wes Craven to make one last parody and make a witty, insightful and, if you’ll pardon the pun, cutting commentary than with one final Scream, bringing back, once again, our much loved band of survivors to Woodsboro, now actually celebrating being the home of Ghostface and cashing in on the local notoriety?
Not to be guilty of rebooting or reinventing, rather than rewrite my thoughts about this movie, which is a spectacular ending to the series, here’s what I wrote about the film when I saw in at the multiplex four years ago…… (think of it as a re-release)
I love the Scream movies. Unashamedly so. To the extent of still having a Ghostface mask hanging on the wall in my study. I think they’re effortlessly cool, they’re well written and they have some valid points to make about the state of the horror movie industry. I like their comically self aware post modernist takes, I like the characters. Hey, I like Wes Craven’s movies, I think Kevin Williamson is a hell of a screen writer. Not only the Screams, but also Teaching Mrs Tingle, The Faculty and I know What You Did Last Summer. I even liked Cursed - so THERE, I’ve said it.
I was curious to see how Craven and Williamson could pull another rabbit out of the hat, eleven years later and how long I could keep spoiler free.
Also - what would they tackle? In the first, they looked at the absurdity and predictability of slasher movies in general. Those who survived did so by watching movies as the killers were following the slasher etiquette laid down in films like Halloween. In the second, it was all about the sequels and how they need to outdo the original. The third was a statement on how, in the last instalment of a trilogy, all bets are off.
My hat is off to both Craven and Williamson in making Scre4m not only a virtual remake of the first, but, as ever - a self aware remake, with several pertinent statements regarding today’s mass media mania with instant, unearned celebrity AND....remakes.
Throughout the gorefest (which really IS surprisingly graphic for a 15 rating) the characters make several shrewd observations about the current Hollywood trend for remakes, including the endlessly quotable line from Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) "Don’t fuck with the original".
Okay - messages aside, how is it? Basically it’s 2 hours of joy.
All the major surviving characters are back, Joining Sidney ten years later as she’s on a book signing tour which culminated back in Woodsboro, we see Deputy Dewey (David Arquette) is now Sheriff. He is married to Gail Weathers (Courtney Cox) who has given up her career in journalism and is settling down to small town life as a writer but as the Ghostface killings start up again as soon as Sidney hits town - all bets are off and she wants another scoop.
The script playfully sets up just about everybody as potentially the killer, but ultimately the true identity makes perfect sense as does their reasoning, within the framework of the script.
So far, this is the best horror movie I’ve seen this year, and it’s great to see Craven, Williamson and the Scream regulars back at their best, not having missed a beat in the past decade.
Obviously it's not part of the trilogy box - you can check it out here.
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