If you’re looking for a way to re-visit the 90s, then “Scream 4” is the movie for you. This is a straight up slasher flick with roots that trace back to the original “Scream.” All elements stay true to the franchise, where waiting for the next gruesome murder is half as fun as trying to figure out who the killer could be.
Perhaps the most interesting and important part of the “Scream” franchise is the lingering feeling of uneasiness that sticks with you even after you leave the theater. Just the idea that your neighbor, your friend or perhaps even one of your most beloved family members could just be out to get you is an idea no one likes to think about, but you’ll still have your guard up for a little while after watching one of these films, especially the latest installment.
In “Scream 4,” the original survivor, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) returns to Woodsboro with a best-selling book about her experience with the serial killer known as “Ghostface.” Naturally, her visit is anything but pleasant. Once again, a string of murders shocks the already scarred town. Some of the veteran players, including Dewey (David Arquette) who is now sheriff, and Gale (Courteney Cox), who is now married to Dewey and is struggling to conceptualize her next writing project, must team up to bring the new killer to justice.
The tagline for the film is “New decade. New rules,” and it seems that horror master Wes Craven tried his best to stay true to this promise. While certain parts of the film are predictable, this new spin on things allows for some moments that will catch you off guard. The problem is that the film makes a point of being self-conscious of this. The structure of horror films is discussed by the characters, making the film feel downright preachy. The film tries so hard to be something new that it ends up overshadowing the enjoyment the audience could have if they were able to just watch it unfold, instead of having the new rules shoved in their faces the whole time.
A fan of the first three films in the franchise will not be let down. This film matches the others in style and tone. The same type of murder, mayhem and mystery is afoot in Woodsboro; there are just different rules as to which characters are eligible for an untimely death. The gore is certainly on par with the previous movies, making this one a regular blood bath that will satisfy the moviegoers who enjoy some old-fashioned slicing and dicing. There are numerous references to the original “Scream” that are enjoyable if the viewer picks up on them.
However, if you’re looking for something a little deeper than people getting stabbed, this isn’t the movie you want to see. While this movie isn’t exactly going to spark an in-depth philosophical conversation, it is worth it if you’re looking for a quick thrill ride. The dialogue is occasionally funny and there are at least a few jump scares that are unexpected.
The new cast of teenagers that are there to raise the body count aren’t completely a waste of time. The performances are mostly decent, with the highlight and the closest thing to a three-dimensional character being Hayden Panettiere’s role. Even if it’s not emotionally wrenching when most, or any, of them die, it’s still fun to yell at the screen as if they can hear you warning them to not open that closet door.
It’s worth seeing “Scream 4” for fans of the franchise. Everyone else shouldn’t have too much of a problem catching on to the plot. It is able to stand alone as its own movie, but some of the events might be more satisfying for a moviegoer who has followed the characters from the beginning. Either way, this is a movie that requires the viewer to understand exactly what it is they’re paying for — a slasher flick straight out of the 90s and drenched in bloodshed.