Rated R for strong bloody violence, language and some teen drinking.
Scream 4 was a worthy successor to the previous three films in the quadrilogy, filled with more blood and violence than I remember from the others.
After years of being the victim, Sidney Prescott returns to her hometown of Woodsboro on a book tour where she talks about living through the earlier Ghostface murders. But Sidney's return brings another round of killings with another round of teenage victims. The murders are almost identical to the original set of murders and now Ghostface is targeting the people Sidney loves the most. Along with her old cohorts Dewey and Gail, and her cousin Jill and Jill's friends, Sidney must try and figure out who the new killer is before they murder everyone Sidney knows.
**SPOILER WARNING** This review will give away A LOT of what happens in the movie, so read at your own risk.
I was a fan of the original trilogy but I wasn't sure there was a big need for Scream 4. But I enjoyed what I saw, even if the story felt slightly weak. The problem is that the original Scream took the horror genre and turned it on its ear with a bunch of kids who knew more than a typical horror movie teen would. But now a decade later, how do you take essentially the same story and make the kids even more aware? There wasn't much room to play with, so they toyed with the idea that now the killers took killing to another level by filming everything they did and feeding it on to the internet. That sounds great, but it was mostly lip service. There was only one or two scenes that actually played up that idea. The resolution at the end, where we find out who the killer(s) is/are talked about the reasoning behind it, but it felt a little forced instead of being an idea that was layered in during the movie. One character in the film walked around with a video camera strapped to his head, filming his entire life and having it stream online instantly, but since the killer turned out not to be him, it felt like a wasted opportunity. It almost felt like Kevin Williamson wrote the entire script then decided who the killer should be by who was still alive at the end of the film. I will admit, I didn't pick the killer(s) out and Williamson and director Wes Craven did a good job of throwing out all sorts of possibilities, but I still don't feel like the reason behind it all was as strong as it could have been.
The one character who really stood out for me was one of the old guard - Courteney Cox's Gale who has turned into a hard-edged bitch (but in a nice way). I think what I like the best about her is that I'm so used to seeing her doing comedic characters that having her play this balls-to-the-walls former writer was a lot of fun. I've never been a fan of David Arquette is anything and while his Dewey character has grown up some, he's still not a great actor. Neve Campbell was OK as Sidney, as this time she was stronger and willing to take a lot more chances to survive. I guess having gone through this a few times before has helped. Out of the new cast, I was happy to see Emma Roberts shine as Sidney's cousin Jill. In fact most of the new cast really held their own against the old timers. And in a movie filled with a lot of beautiful people, I think Alison Brie may have been the best looking.
The humor flew fast and furious during the film, with the opening sequence being one of the most inventive ones in recent memory. The opening murders were a hallmark of the original Scream movies and this one is no different, with layers upon layers of meta moments, with star after star making an appearance before getting knifed. Playing up the Stab movies (which were the movies that were based upon the original Ghostface murders) was genius and the audience was never quite sure where they stood. Again, the biggest problem was making this new generation of kid even smarter than the old one. While in the original films the kids knew the rules of horror films, this new generation not only knew the rules, they were able to write them as well, which immediately made them all suspects. It was clever, but never quite felt clever enough. Still, it was a much better time than I thought it would be. And there was also a lot of blood if you're someone who likes that in their horror. I don't recall the other films being as violent, but a ton of people die in this film - almost the entire cast in fact. While their deaths weren't inventive like in another horror series, there were certainly a lot of them.
The DVD has a decent number of extras. There's the commentary track of course. I've never been able to watch a movie with commentary just because even though I may have seen a movie a dozen times, I find it distracting to see one thing but hear another. There's about 20-25 minutes of deleted/extended scenes which do add a little bit more to the story. There's a making-of documentary which lasts about 10 minutes. There's a gag reel, which mainly consists of people in the Ghostface mask jumping out and scaring people. And then you can download the video game for your phone. So there's not a lot, but I thought the large amount of deleted scenes was worth it.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I liked Scream 4. I wasn't expecting much, but I did enjoy it. There were a lot of references to the first three movies to make old fans happy, but enough of a story that new fans will like it too.