SCREAM 4 Review

"Scream 4" was not expected to be that good. I mean, let's be honest, from the first to the third they got a little worse in terms of quality and all the more stuck in the cliches they were speaking on as they went along. So, when the fourth doesn't come out until ten years later it is either going to be for the worst or there was the slight chance writer Kevin Williamson simply took the time to let the horror game change, let it evolve in order to set up a fresh take his "Scream" movies could make on the whole genre. With a slew of new young, pretty actors taking over while still being able to coax the three original stars back both Williamson and Director Wes Craven have concocted a fourth sequel that through the eyes of the new generation is more of a re-boot. This fourth entry is just as funny as any of the first three and a little more bloody. It's a good time with old friends, and I enjoyed seeing them in action again.

Once again we follow Sydney Prescott, once again played by Neve Campbell, as she journeys back to Woodsboro after having written a kind of self-help book and is on a promotional tour. Of course, once Sydney is back where it all began strange things start to happen and Ghostface reappears and people begin to die. The way in which Williamson has connected Sydney back to Woodsboro is by introducing us to Jill, Sydeny's niece, played here by Emma Roberts. Jill is around the same age Sydney was when everything started and though her friend fittingly call Jill's aunt the "angel of death" it is clear Jill has a kind of affection for her estranged aunt. What I found most surprising about this sequel was the young cast and how well they carried all their duties out. There is a lot of talking going on here, many things needing to be said to get the films point of view across and they all do it well. most notably, Hayden Panttiere who plays a popular girl with a geek edge. A flair for old school horror and a secret crush on the president of the cinema club. Her performance is authentic and ground the film in what today's high schoolers would actually make of a scary movie made nearly fifteen years ago. With her, both Erik Knudsen and the object of Panttiere's affection Rory Culkin give us the outline for how a current horror flick should run and it is fun to watch them break it down and to see the movie carry it out.

As for the originals, David Arquette is back as Dewey but is no longer a deputy, instead he has now been promoted to Sheriff and has been married to Gale for ten years. Gale, still looking great as embodied by Courtney Cox, is having trouble finding things to write about and has had to come to terms with the fact she is no longer the leader in campy news journalism. Williamson weaves these stock characters into the plot seamlessly leading to a conclusion that gives us the most rewarding piece of dialogue in the whole film. I won't say anymore so as to not give anything away, but though the logic of the ending might be questionable to some point, the film makes a good case for it and we certainly buy into this world in which we have not been back to in a while. That is the charm of this film, had this been made a few years after the third film it would no doubt have been looked at as more camp than Craven intended (and no doubt as a more awful film than it actually is) but instead the bits of camp thrown in here and there feel intentional and much like a wink at the audience. We are in on it too now, the generation that grew up with with these films has seen how scary movies have changed and can now comment on them with their favorite characters. I didn't find it to be a scary movie, but the "scream" films have never really appealed tome in that way, they have always been an institution of the genre that was kind of laughing at themselves, and that tone is captured perfectly again here.

Possibly the most exciting things about getting to see a new "Scream" movie is the opportunity to see what the makers will do for the next opening. I eagerly awaited seeing what this would be and though I don't really want to discuss it so as not to give away the twists of it, you should know that I laughed to myself more than i thought I would. They way in which Williamson has messed with every new convention and trick as well as name dropping several pop culture staples while tearing them down is priceless and follows in a close race with the opening of the second film. Of course you can't top the original, but that is something this sequel doesn't forget and that is why it is so hard not to enjoy our time back in Woodsboro. Sure, with anything else this might not have been a movie that is worth your time, but on it's own "Scream" terms this is much better than I expected it to be, but just as good as it should have been.

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