The Scream franchise has an interesting history. When it first came out it was the shot in the arm that horror needed. It wasn’t only a hit but it also revitalized the genre as a whole. Less than a year later came Scream 2. Despite the quick turnaround the movie was good. It was really good. Scream 2 was just as fun and suspenseful as the original. Two and a half years later we got the final part of the Scream trilogy. How can I put it politely? Scream 3 was crap. Between the lame plot and uncreative kills, the movie became what it was created to satirize. A predictable slasher with little suspense or fun.
It’s been over 10 years since the third chapter. Can Scream 4 rejuvenate the stagnant horror genre like it’s predecessors or will it fall into the same trappings of the third entry? Lucky for you, I saw it and am here to let you know.
It’s been 15 years since the original Woodsboro Murders. Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), now a self-help author, has returned to Woodsboro as the last stop on her book tour. She returns to the relatively quiet town and reconnects with Sheriff Dewey (David Arquette) and ex-reporter Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox), now his wife. She also meets up with distant family, cousin Jill and her Aunt Kate. Unfortunately this homecoming is far from happy. Her return to Woodsboro brings the return of Ghostface. With a new killer coming in to “remake” the original massacre, it’s up to Sidney, Dewey, Gale and a new generation of Woodsboro teens to end the terror.
What sticks out to me most was how Sidney was portrayed in this movie. She had gone through the “Final Girl” cycle already and she comes into this movie a strong, confident hero as opposed to the cowering damsel in distress. Something that, to this day, is still hard to find in horror. Then again, every character is written well. From our old friends to the new kids, everybody gets a moment to shine. Nobody in the movie feels disposable or completely useless.
What the Scream series is best known for it’s clever writing. With modern horror’s endless cycle of remakes, the material is there. Luckily writer Kevin Williamson more than capitalizes on the opportunity. He cleverly satirizes remakes, sequels, and even the meta teen horror he created. Much more than any of those awful Scary Movie spoofs ever could. Not only that but director Wes Craven brings his A-game. After the utter failure that was My Soul To Take, I can only imagine he felt he needed something to prove. He doesn’t disappoint in the least. Keeping with the remake theme Craven is able to reflect the darker environment that horror has become.
That isn’t to say this style doesn’t have it’s flaws. There’s no doubt that the film’s style is entertaining. However, it is still a slasher movie. So while it is clever and funny, it still falls back on some of the classic slasher tropes. Even if Scream 4 does it better.
It also felt like there wasn’t enough of the survivors of the original series. I understand the need to pass the torch to a new generation. But to make Gale and Dewey feel like second tier stars just doesn’t make sense to me. They weren’t thrown to the side like Sidney in Scream 3 but it felt off nevertheless.
Despite these flaws, Scream 4 is more than just a cheap cash in. Did it break ground like the original? Not exactly. Was it a good sequel and fitting end to a legendary franchise? Absolutely. From the second you walk in you can tell that everyone put their all into making the best capper to the series they could. If you have liked the original then you really should see this movie.