Review: Scream 4
Scream 4 is typical of a sequel that comes long after the previous franchise in an attempt to bring it back. It’s got all the hallmarks of the series we love to see again and we get to catch up with all the characters, but it feels forced and uninspired.
The next generation of Woodsboro catches up with Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) on the anniversary of the original murders. Kids have erected Ghostfaces all over the city street lamps. Killings start again, but it’s the young generation that interprets the rules now.
I totally realize that I’m too old for this movie. Scream 4 is for the internet generation, and I’ve kept up as best I could, but I am simply not the person a movie about webcam and found footage is for. That’s for them. So maybe this is the Scream 1 for a new generation.
I still think the statement is too on the nose. It’s not a satire of the web generation, and they barely address what it means to the Scream formula when everybody has their own personal cell phone. The film simply identifies their habits, but that’s not a commentary. Plus, webcam boys Robbie (Erik Knudsen) and Charlie (Rory Culkin) are no Randy.
The opening sequence manages to surprise the audience and go meta. It’s not organic to any kind of storytelling, but it’s adjusting the formula to a generation built on texting and apps so it’s fun. When they talk about torture porn and Saw movies, I definitely feel like they don’t actually understand that genre like the screenwriter understood slasher movies. They just mention the talking points. Hard to know whether that’s Kevin Williamson or Ehren Kruger. And having the girls watch Shaun of the Dead? No. Just no.
It’s still a mystery, which is a strength of sorts to keep telling stories and guessing games. They’ve got 7 Saws to compete with now though. A scene in the car introducing Jill (Emma Roberts), Kirby (Hayden Panettiere) and Olivia (Marielle Jaffe) is just blatant exposition, no matter how many references they drop in the dialogue. We do get to find out who directed Stab so that’s funny.
There is an unintended meta effect about Gale (Courteney Cox) and Dewey (David Arquette). When Gale and Dewey have relationship conflict, it becomes really uncomfortable to watch. They can’t help that, but it’s a powerful unintentional comment on how the media affects our viewing.
It’s weird, thinking about Scream 4 intellectually, it feels like everything is right and it should work. I just know I wasn’t connecting. I actually liked Scream 3. I liked the meta of setting it on the movie set where they’re making the movie version of the story we’re watching, and Jay and Silent Bob go on the studio tour. I also like in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back where Wes Craven is directing Scream 4 and the killer turns out to be the monkey.
I think Detention ruined me for Scream 4. That’s the new meta self-referential masterpiece, but no one else has seen it yet. Maybe I’ll appreciate Scream 4 some day, in a cultural vacuum or historical context. It took me 13 years to finally appreciate Scream 2. Next time I watch them all back to back, it may fall into place, so there’s hope.