18 April 2011
SCREAM 4- Review
In the film, and in real time, 15 years have passed since Sidney Prescott first came up against the Ghostface killer. She returns to Woodsboro on the eve of the anniversary of the original murders, promoting her self-help book about moving on from being a victim. With horror movies in a state of ouroboros due to remakes and reboots, the students of Woodsboro High School soon come under attack- someone wants to improve upon the original killing spree.
Here's a thing about horror remakes/reboots/reimaginings/whatever you want to call them. They're very often sold as "updates" on the original source by studios who presumably don't like the negative connotations of the word "remake". Around the time when Batman Begins and Casino Royale were the only notable "reboots", they were happier to use that word too, but that's starting to lose its currency. But the means of "updating" the original usually amounts to copying many of the same beats and adding social networking or mobile phones, and the latter is usually only there to not have a signal at a crucial moment anyway.
Maybe it's the fact that in the 11 years since Scream 3, things have changed for the genre, or rather, what's changed is how little things have changed, with the genre more literally repeating the formula of other films by remaking or rebooting them. Scream has now produced its own clichés, such as the cold openings and the metatextual nudging, both of which are taken to task by original screenwriter Kevin Williamson in this new film. But the chief difference between this film and Scream 2 or Scream 3 is that this one has more than just self-awareness.
There's also a welcome return for the ongoing murder mystery part of the proceedings, which was less well-thought out in the previous sequels, as much as the dark humour and satire. So what's strange to realise about Scream 4 is that it feels fresher than most horror films out there despite the fact that it's largely the same as the first film, and it makes that part of its DNA.
Is that a high-falutin' way of saying that they're still gonna go in there even if you shout "Bitch, don't go in there"? Well, yes, but if the younger cast don't appeal to you as characters so much, Neve Campbell reprises her perennial victim Sidney, and the character is developed as a result of the previous films rather than reset for another scream queen outing. David Arquette's Sheriff Dewey has nearly been killed even more times than Sidney, so his presence is oddly reassuring in this one. I also much preferred Courteney Cox's involvement post-Friends, because the irrelevant meta jokes about her co-stars when Friends was still running really got on my nerves in the previous sequels.
It's not all positive, mind. For a seasoned director like Wes Craven, the film is pretty poorly shot. The lens seems almost near-sighted with the way that lights in the background strobe and backgrounds themselves look blurry. If I had to describe it without visual aids, think of what 3D looks like if you take off the glasses. Additionally, I'm aware that while the film's twist ending and commentary on victim culture enraptured me (quite separately, I should add), not everyone will be as taken it. But it should go without saying that if you haven't liked the meta stuff in past Scream films, you won't like this new one.
Scream 4 is now playing in cinemas nationwide.
If you've seen Scream 4, why not share your comments below? And as much as I like Kevin Smith and his work, boy am I glad to say that there isn't another Jay and Silent Bob cameo in this one...
I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.