After the last directorial debacle by Wes Craven, I was terrified that Scream 4 would be a continuation of the lack-luster storytelling Craven tried to spoon feed us with My Soul to Take. Instead, we were given another commentary on the current landscape of the horror film genre where Craven cemented himself as a horror legend.
Scream 4 is not a remake, although it has several elements common to remakes. Nor is it a reboot, but in some ways, it serves more as a reboot than a standard sequel. The beginning of the film is extremely meta-referential and will take you for a bit of a ride, so the tradition of attention grabbing openings doesn’t end with the fourth installment.
The lovely Ms. Neve Campbell reprises her role as Sidney Prescott, ultimate “final girl” for the last decade and a half, only this time Sidney has had enough of being the victim and she’s out for revenge. (No, not really; that would be cool, though) She’s not out for revenge; she is, however, looking to break from her role as the victim with her new book “Out of Darkness”. Part symbolic closure and part out of a sense of duty, Sidney returns to Woodsboro to end her book tour.
Upon her arrival, which just happens to be the anniversary of the murders as depicted in Scream, violence and terror ensue. Sidney is now a bit of an urban legend in Woodsboro and the Ghostface mask has been reduced to nothing more than a poor-taste decoration. Shortly after her return to Woodsboro, a new series of murders begins and Craven sets the audience on the search for the killer.
Dewey is now the sheriff of Woodsboro. No longer the up and coming police officer with something to prove, Dewey plays things strictly by the book. He and Gail are married and have what seems to be a strained relationship. Gail is still writing; she has turned her sights on fiction, but her heart isn’t in it.
It is interesting to see the beloved characters from the Scream films mirrored in the part of this film that is pure reboot. My main problem with the film is Emma Roberts, who played Jill Roberts, Sidney’s cousin. Jill is the Sidney for a new generation, but overall, I found her much less likable than Sidney in the first Scream. Mirroring Dewey is the new, young deputy Judy Hicks, played by Marley Shelton, familiar from the Grindhouse movies. Deputy Judy Hicks is every bit as eager as Dewey was in the original. We also have Trevor Sheldon, played by Nico Tortorella, in place of Billy Loomis, and Charlie Walker, played by Rory Culkin, and Robbie Mercer, played by Erik Knudson (Scott Pilgrim’s Crash), representing Randy. My favorite character in this movie is Hayden Panettiere’s Kirby Reed, Jill’s friend and adorable horror genre fan.
Honorable mention goes to Allison Brie, who plays Sidney’s likable bitch of a publicist, Rebecca Walters; the always watchable Anthony Anderson, who plays Deputy Anthony Perkins (get it?); and Adam Brody as Detective Hoss.
I definitely do not want to spoil this one because I think it is worth a watch. I won’t say it is innovative, but I will say that it is interesting how the story serves as a blend of sequel, remake and reboot, and I enjoyed the specific nods to the original, probably because it is familiar, just like Sidney, Dewey and Gail.
How much would I pay to see this again? Out of $10, I would pay $7. I think this will grow on me even more with repeated viewings.
Jay Fralick is the co-host of the Wanna Watch a Movie? podcast
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