Friday, April 15, 2011

Scream 4 [ Movie Review ] ★★★1/2

The Pitch

In recent years, old successful franchise had been making making a comeback after a lengthy absence. Series like Indiana Jones, Rambo and Die Hard series had seen a new installment to their trilogy after many years. The common thing about these 4th installments would be that they weren't that good or generally hated by the fans.

Scream 4 has certain indicators that it might just be like those movies mention above. Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette didn't have much of a movie career after the Scream trilogy. It would be hard to name one movie that Kevin Williamson wrote in recent years.

Plus it's a good idea to bring Ghostface and all the stabbing back? The first one was a refreshing touch on the whole slasher genre, setting down some ground rules that identify the overused cliches of a slasher flick. The second movie marked the start of decline for the franchise and the third one was even more forgettable than the second one.

Director Wes Craven stated that he won't be directing Scream 4 if the script wasn't as good as the first one. The movie makers also made promises that this installment will be an updated with the slate of what's happening with the slasher genre (cum torture porn and remakes + reboots) these days. Would be interesting to see if the gang could actually bring something new to this franchise?

The Plot

It's the 15th anniversary of the first Woodsboro Ghostface serial killing and Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) and Sheriff Dewey Riley (David Arquette) are all back in town. Sidney Prescott had overcome her traumatic past and wrote a self help book about her slasher magnet experience. The book became a success and oddly enough, she chose to return to Woodsboro on the eve of the anniversary for her book tour.

Gale Weathers and Sheriff Dewey Riley are married for 10 years and are currently residing at Woodsboro. Sheriff Dewey Riley had settle in nicely with his role as Sheriff of Woodsboro. Gale Weathers on the other hand, is having a major writer blocks of her writing career and resents being stuck in a small town where nothing much happens. She craves for something to happen so that she could be inspired to write again.

It's not going to be a happy reunion as Ghostface is back too. As every installments of the Scream franchise, Ghostface won't just be terrorizing the Scream franchise survivors. There will be new victims and this time round, the new targets comes in form of  Sidney's cousin Jill Roberts (Emma Roberts) and several of Jill's high school friends.

Like Sidney, Jill having trouble with ex boyfriend Trevor Sheldon (Nico Tortorella) (the bad boy type that invokes memories of Billy in the first Scream). Her good friends Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere) and Olivia Morris (Marielle Jaffe) helps her to deter Trevor attempts to contact her.  Rounding up the list of potential student victims, Charlie Walker (Rory Culkin) and Robbie Mercer (Erik Knudsen) are the new movie geeks that helps provide the rules of surviving a horror movie (as what Randy did for the first three Scream movies).

Beside the students, there are other potential victims/killers around. Sheriff Dewey has an admirer in his office and it's pretty obvious that Deputy Judy Hicks (Marley Shelton) does not really like Gale Weathers. Deputy Judy also happens to be Sidney high school classmate except Sidney could not recall who she is. She is even a high school classmate with Sidney but Sidney could not remember. A strange coincidence or a designated red herring?

Rebecca Walters (Alison Brie), Sidney's publicist who got a lot to gain when Ghostface returns to haunt Sidney. Even Jill's mom Kate Roberts (Mary McDonnell) didn't seemed to be the normal mom/aunt figure. Could she bear some grudge against Sidney or Sidney's mom?

Like in all Scream movies, the potential victims (and even dead or wounded) could turn out to be Ghostface. Just as one of the quotes in the Scream movies, Everyone's a suspect... even the veteran survivors.

The Perspective

The opening act for Scream 4 was the weakest  one in the franchise. The numerous false starts felt tedious and a cheap parody of slasher flicks. It felt gimmicky and overly done till the victims became what they were making fun of ... the torture porn cardboard characters that you didn't care for.

But nevertheless, things got a better after the opening act. Characters and relationship were quickly established. It felt a little too familiar but kudos to the cast, writer and director, it was adequate to keep things interesting and the suspense tight for the audience.

The thing that made Scream 4 stood out from the last two sequels would have to be the revelation of the motive behind all the gory killings. Scream 4, in my opinion nailed the finale pretty well. Well enough to convert the average slasher flick into an instant favorite.  It was unexpected and it has a natural flow of logic to it. Unlike Scream 2 and 3, the revelation in Scream 4 does not felt forced and done in a manner for no other purpose but to outwit the audience. Scream 4 revelation also contain the best social commentary from a slasher flick and that was pretty awesome in my books.

In closing, Scream 4 felts like the true sequel to the original Scream movie. It's witty, intense and was a gory fun time. The best part would be how they didn't try to overcomplicated matters by making unexpected (far fetch) revelation. If the upcoming Scream 5 and 6 could be as good as Scream 4, count me in for the next two installments.

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