I am curious to see what kind of reception Scream 4 will get. It's been ten years since the last film in the series; are people so clamoring for more of Ghostface's killnanigans and thus will jump into his knife-wielding arms readily? Is seeing the old Scream gang up on the screen enough to block out that whiff of cash-grab, or will everyone be all "Dayum, that shit smells like cash-grab!"? Yes...curious am I.
Cash-grab, by the way, smells a bit like Aviance Night Musk by Prince Matchabelli for Women.
Yes yes, the ol' Scream gang is back- or, at least, OG survivors Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) and Dewey Riley (David Arquette) have returned. It's ten years since the last spate of murders. Let's catch up! Gale and Dewey are married. Dewey is the sheriff, and Gale is bored playing the sheriff's wife. Sidney has written a self-help book, and her book tour brings her home to Woodsboro. Once she arrives in town, Ghostface gets busy.
Err, he gets busy killing, that is...killing and making phone calls.
If I had to sum up Scream 4 in three words, I'd use these three: "enjoyable, if rote."
Scream revitalized the horror genre and ushered in a new age of slasher flicks; it was successful because it was a damn good slasher flick, but more so, it made a point of telling the audience which genre conventions it was adhering to...you know, those famous "rules" spouted off by film geek characters. Kevin Williamson's Scream 4 makes it a point to establish new rules for this age of incessant horror remakes and reboots, and the film straddles those two categories. Scream 4 is so self-referential and meta (even dropping hints about, say, the real-life marital discord between Cox and Arquette) that it's become a mobius strip, and ouroboros feeding off of its own history and cleverness. At times, it almost sinks into the realm of complete parody. There is some seriously broad overacting going throughout, the type better suited to Scary Movie than a scary movie. Mind you, with the exception of Sidney (who, dammit, is a real Final Girl, ain't she?), the characters are little more than cardboard place holders- but that's no cause for mugging, Marley Shelton, Courteney Cox, and woman who played Sidney's publicist. As someone who knows that Battlestar Galactica is the best show ever, I found Mary McDonnell to be completely squandered in a tiny, thankless role.
Though the cast is full of red herrings and the violence is vicious and brutal, the film quickly falls into a pattern: phone call, oh no!, die. I suppose, perhaps, that was always the Scream formula, but here it just seems like a journey from beat to beat. There may be jump scares, but there's not much tension. It's capable, like all Wes Craven movies are. After it was over, I began thinking about that- what makes a Wes Craven movie a Wes Craven movie? Does anything? Scream 4 could have been directed by anyone who knows what they're doing behind the camera and the results wouldn't be much different. It's just sort of there and you like it well enough even though things slide into JUST END ALREADY-land once the killer is revealed, but...you know. It's enjoyable, if rote. Much of that enjoyment stems from an affection for earlier entries in the series (except Scream 3, because fuck you Scream 3), which is what's going to get fans in the seats.
Hey, does it smell like Aviance Night Musk by Prince Matchabelli for Women in here to you?