Thursday, June 6, 2013

Scream 4 Movie Review

You might have thought enough time had passed between Scream 3 (which presumably closed out a trilogy) and Scream 4 (which attempted to cash in on the resurgence of the horror genre) that writer Kevin Williamson could have found a newly fresh take on the genre. The first film in the series was undoubtedly remarkable for managing to skewer the genre, calling attention to itself and its absurd tropes, and at the same time be a skillfully crafted addition to the horror canon thanks to the direction of Wes Craven. Craven returned to helm the third sequel, which would suggest a belief somewhere that it was worth returning to the franchise more than a decade later.

The action returns to the original fictional town of Woodsboro, where the next generation of teenagers has grown up on post-ironic horror films as well as the fictional Stab series which is supposed to be based on the events of the Scream films. Scream 4 opens promisingly, although you don’t realize it for several minutes. A hackneyed dialogue between two teenage girls as they receive threatening phone calls and Facebook messages from a stalker is revealed to be the opening of Stab 6, being watched by two other young women (one of them played by Anna Paquin), which is then revealed as the opening of Stab 7 being watched by two teenagers who are, in fact, characters in Scream 4. Ignoring the metaphysical paradox when you work out the logic, it is an opening that outdoes itself.

From there it’s all humdrum recycling of the same old conventions (exactly the same garbage the Paquin character bemoans in her brief segment of the opening) with occasional exceptions. Sydney (Neve Campbell) returns to Woodsboro plugging a book she’s written. A new spate of murders coincides with her arrival. Dewey (David Arquette) is not the town sheriff and Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) is his wife, working on her first novel after having given up tabloid journalism. The new teens are even more self-aware than those in the first film. They adore the Stab films and even have a super-secret underground marathon of the series planned – a perfect staging ground for mass murder, don’t you think?

Among them are Sydney’s cousin Jill (Emma Roberts) and her friends played by Hayden Panettiere and Adam Brody. Rory Culkin plays a geeky cinema lover. Mary McDonell puts in an appearance as Jill’s mom and Alison Brie is Sydney’s money-hungry agent. The funny thing is that now, after a few weeks, I remember who the killer (or killers) was, but not the motivation. What I do remember is that as it comes to a close, the film has a great opportunity to truly do something that would revolutionize the genre. But then it cops out and resorts to the same old tired kind of ending that everyone from the knowledgeable teens of Scream to those in Stab 7 and the insulted audience members for this sequel should be well versed in.

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