Review: SCREAM 4 (2011) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Monday, 18 April 2011

Review: SCREAM 4 (2011)

RATING: 2.5/5

New decade, new rules... but mostly same old formula. SCREAM 4 doesn't exactly recreates the genre convention that the original SCREAM (1996) did it so successfully, but at least there are few interesting tweaks that made this fourth entry a cut above than the bloated SCREAM 2 (1997) and the underwhelming SCREAM 3 (2000).

The opening and the first 10 minutes begins with a self-referential tease at its most playful best: a movie-within-a-movie-within-a-movie-within-a-movie gag that debated over the predictability of horror genre convention, remake, sequels, and torture porn. No further details can be given here, except you just have to see it for yourself. I can say this particular bravura set-piece has certainly shared the same creative spark of the original's Drew Barrymore-opening set.

As the plot proper gets underway, we learn that eleven years has passed since the small town of Woodsboro is haunted by the bloody massacre from a different set of Ghostface killers. Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), the original survivor of the massacre is now a successful self-help book writer who recently has a bestseller called Out of Darkness under her belt. She returns to her hometown to promote her book, and quickly reconnects with her old friend Sheriff Dewey (David Arquette), who has recently married to retired news journalist Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox). However her joyous reunion abruptly cut short when two teenagers are found brutally slaughtered. What's more is that Sidney ends up as a material witness after a bloody scene is found in the trunk of her rental car. While the investigation is taking place, Sidney is welcomed into the home of her late mother's sister, Aunt Kate (Mary McDonnell), and teenage cousin Jill Roberts (Emma Roberts). It doesn't take long before Ghostface reappears to haunt back Sidney, and this time it also involves Jill as well as her circle of close friends -- film aficionado Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere), next-door neighbor Olivia Morris (Marielle Jaffe), ex-boyfriend Trevor Sheldon (Nico Tortorella), know-it-all cinema club president Robbie Mercer (Erik Knudsen), and Robbie's geeky sidekick Charlie Walker (Rory Culkin).

The most interesting aspect about SCREAM 4 is the fresh relevance of returning screenwriter Kevin Williamson's playful mockery over today's horror genre convention, while also referenced on the current trend of Facebook, Twitter and live blog webcast. It's certainly fun to watch, alongside with some of the franchise's cleverest dialogues offer here (e.g. "Don't f**k with the original") while 71-year-old director Wes Craven still knows how to thrill viewers. Apart from the inspired opening scene, a suspenseful moment involving Sidney's personal assistant Rebecca Walters (Alison Brie) getting assaulted in the parking garage, as well as the bloody climactic finale, are well-orchestrated. It's no doubt this is Craven's comeback after his ill-fated effort of last year's MY SOUL TO TAKE.

All good things aside, SCREAM 4 remains a missed opportunity. At nearly two-hour long, the movie feels redundant. The middle part is especially a formulaic slog of rinse-and-repeat narrative style, and sometimes draggy as well. Much of the killing scene are more of the same, and certainly lacking the creative aura that Craven could have done better. As for the franchise's iconic twist, the surprising finale given here is nothing more than your standard killer's motivation (you'll know once you see it).

Words are out that the studio are proposing for a new trilogy here, but judging by the overall result of SCREAM 4, it's more than enough already.

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