Scream 4 ✮✮
Scream … and Scream Again
by Glenn Lovell
Let’s see if we can get this straight. “Scream 4,” the latest in the Wes Craven-Kevin Williamson horror franchise, is a post-post modern deconstruction of “Scream,” the hit 1996 slasher movie send-up.
Or is it a post-post-post modern re-construction?
Do all the posts finally cancel themselves out, making “Scream 4″ just a garden variety slice-and-dice entry?
I opt for the latter.
Now between franchise boogeymen, Craven ‒ who begat Freddy, who begat Ghostface — is happily treading water here, exploding the clichés he exploded so successfully 16 years ago. The result is a brain-dead brainteaser, a mirror reflection of a mirror reflection. Which means, if you’re still with me, everything that was delightfully skewed the first, second and third time around is now back to normal; it’s tired and traditional, but with a wink.
“The unexpected is the new cliché,” explains Woodsboro’s ultimate horror geek, who acts as a referee, explaining which genre conventions are passé, which ones are still in play.
The movie-within-a-movie gambit is obviously still in play. This new installment opens like the original, only it isn’t the original but rather “Stab 6,” a slasher movie being watched by the victims of “Stab 7,” who are being watched by …. but you get the idea.
Besides the killer behind the Edvard Munch mask, “Scream 4” reunites us with Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), back in Woodsboro to flog her account of the Ghostface murders, and Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), now married to Sheriff Dewey (David Arquette). Joining the list of suspects/victims are Sidney’s cousin Jill (Emma Roberts), Jill’s mom (Mary McDonnell), and Jill’s best friends (Hayden Panettiere and Marielle Jaffe).
My favorite characters are Robbie and Charlie (Erik Knudsen and Rory Culkin), who run Woodsboro High’s film club and, with their Hall Pass podcast, chronicle their own geeky existences. Robbie, face-to-face with Ghostface, has the best line: “You can’t ‒ there are rules! I’m gay … if that helps.”
Of course, the joke’s on us: There are no rules, illogic is the new logic. Craven and screenwriter Williamson, updating with iPhones and references to Twitter and Facebook, throw everything at the charnel-house wall to see what will stick. The punny, scattershot results are at once monotonous and amusing. Still, say what you will about this hipper-than-thou franchise, it boasts the best-looking victims in horror, including this time around Anna Paquin, Kristen Bell and Brittany Robertson. Alison Brie breaks from the pack as Sidney’s hilariously clueless publicist.
No need to post a review. Craven has included his own built-in pan: “The first rule of the remake: Don’t f — with the original.”
SCREAM 4 ✮✮ With Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Emma Roberts. Directed by Wes Craven; scripted by Kevin Williamson. 111 mins. Rated R (for multiple stabbings and buckets of blood)