Sometimes an event happens in a movie that’s so unique, so cool, or so visually amazing that a franchise can’t get back on track after they pass that tipping point.
The first time a dinosaur was revealed in Jurassic Park it was mind blowing. But once the sequel rolled around we’ve all become accustomed to the sight of people interacting realistically with enormous computer generated lizards.
When Neo swallowed the pill and went down the rabbit hole, the explanation Morpheus gave about the machines taking over humanity was an incredible revelation. But two sequels later we never received another idea that was anywhere near as exciting or original as the concept they started with.
In 1996, Scream had one of those moments.
Billed as the main character, Drew Barrymore appeared in the opening scene. She spoke with a stranger on a phone for several minutes as tension built, and before long she ended up in a fight for her life – ultimately being hanged from her front yard tree with entrails dangling from her stomach. NO ONE saw this coming, and everyone sitting in the theatre knew that were in for a different kind of horror experience.
Two sequels later (which I enjoyed) they were never quite able to recapture the magic from that first movie.
11 years later they’re giving it a try.
Scream 4 (or SCRE4M) takes place in a different world. The Internet, smart phones and streaming video are part of every day life. Writer Kevin Williamson tries to take the ‘meta’ concept even further, and again, lets us in on the joke (even toying with the premise that horror movies become silly once they’re in to the 4th, 5th and 6th sequels).
What’s good about it?
They legitimately went for something unique, although I don’t know how successful they were in driving their points home. I loved the ending, but it could have been foreshadowed just a little bit more to ‘connect the dots’.
Emma Roberts was good. Neve Campbell is always great. Courtney Cox and David Arquette as Dewey and Gale seemed more subdued compared to their previous outings, but I enjoyed them nonetheless.
And of course, there are some great scenes of a guy in a Halloween costume stabbing helpless victims with a hunting knife.
What’s not so good?
The new cast of beautiful, articulate teenagers that are acutely aware that they’re living out a slasher movie are somewhat disappointing. Their performances were a little flat, and they really weren’t given much to say.
In past Scream movies we got cameos and supporting performances from Sarah Michelle Gellar, Parker Posey, Liev Schreiber, Lance Henrikson…now we get Shenae Grimes and Marielle Jaffe. I’ll wait while you IMDB them because I know you’re scratching your head right now.
Yes, Scream 4 has a brief appearance from True Blood’s Anna Paquin and Veronica Mars’ Kristen Bell, but they were given far too small a role.
What was surprising?
It was violent, but not overly-so. We get plenty of stabbings, as you might imagine, as well as tons of bloodshed. And there is even a scene of entrails spilled out onto a floor for old time’s sake.
But it definitely didn’t go as far as Saw or many of the more disturbing modern-day ventures into torture-porn that we’ve seen in recent years.
That a very confused Hayden Panettiere must have thought she was filming a remake of Basic Instinct, because she was sporting a super-short, 80’s style haircut that was so out of place it was nearly distracting (or was this actually paying homage to Sharon Stone?)
Should you see it?
If you never saw the originals, you probably won’t be interested. And if you weren’t that thrilled with Scream 2 and 3, definitely don’t see this one.
But if you’re like me and loved the originals, then yes, go for it.
Scream 4 isn’t overly bloody, overly funny or overly suspenseful – it’s a blend of everything – and to that end it does work as a movie…albeit not nearly as seamlessly as it did over a decade ago.
These movie reviews are going so well I might make them a semi-regular thing!
I love you guys,