Review: Scream 4


Directed by: Wes Craven
Written by:Kevin Williamson
Starring: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Rory Culkin
Released: April 14, 2011
Grade: C+

“What is your favourite scary movie?”  It’s a famous line from the original Scream and that same question is asked repeatedly of the cast in this latest instalment.  My answer would include films such as Psycho and The Shining.  I’d even include the first two Scream flicks.  Unfortunately, Scream 4 would not rate a mention.

It’s a shame because the movie starts with a few good laughs.  Those who’ve seen the previous films in the series will know they always begin with someone being brutally killed.  I won’t give too much away but the creative introduction to Scream 4 is likely to leave you with a wry smile on your face.

From that point on, the only emotion I felt was disappointment.  It was nice to see Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette once again but the new characters are all so boring.  There’s a bunch of dumb girls, two unlikeable films nerds and a dreary ex-boyfriend.   Maybe I’m getting too old but I found the likes of Skeet Ulrich, Matthew Lillard and Rose McGowan (from the original) far more entertaining and charismatic.

The premise revolves around two copycat killers slaying unsuspecting victims in the small town of Woodsboro.  The killings coincide with the return of Sidney Prescott (Campbell).  Having survived the three previous massacres, Sidney is in Woodsboro promoting her “tell all” book.  She’s also catching up with her old friends, Gale Weathers (Cox) and Dewey Riley (Arquette).

The film tries to follow in the mould of its predecessors by making numerous references to sequels and the rules of horror films.  There’s a key scene where the two film geeks try to explain to Sidney and Gale how these rules have changed over time.  I’ve watched my fair share of horror films but I was not convinced by them or their confusing arguments.  They’re too smart for their own good.

My biggest grievance is that the movie lacks suspense when required.  The early films in the Scream franchise showed how to successfully blend the comedy and thriller genres.  Some moments left you chuckling whilst others left you squirming and clenching.  I can’t say the same here.  Maybe it’s because I didn’t like these characters but the growing death toll and uninspired ending did nothing to get my blood pumping.

As a footnote, this my 3,000th grading of a movie for my Film Pie website and a big thanks to everyone who reads my reviews on a regular basis or tunes in on 612ABC, Logan 101.1FM or ABC Southern Queensland.  Here's a photo of me at the Scream 4 premiere celebrating the milestone.