September 29, 2011

Filthy Review - Scream 4

Scream 4 (2011)

Review by Jude Felton

It’s a funny old world we live in, one where everyone apparently loves to watch a scary movie yet horror flicks, more often than not fail at the Box Office. Of course there are occasions where the big bucks do roll in, but what is rarer still is for a horror film, or franchise, to break into the mainstream psyche. It does happen from time to time, The Exorcist, The Sixth Sense or The Blair Witch Project are just three examples. Director Wes Craven has managed this trick not once but twice. First was with the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, although you could argue that the mass appeal and media saturation didn’t really happen until Pt 3, with Freddy Krueger popping up absolutely everywhere. Then, in 1996, it happened again with Scream, a franchise he has been involved with since the first movie, having directed all of them unlike the Elm Street flicks where he flitted in and out of the series.

Scream really was a blast of fresh air, it was funny, gory and witty, and it took the world by storm. Over the following four years two sequels were spawned, and although they weren’t up to the standard of the first movie they were still decent flicks. Then, it all went quiet. That is until Craven and, Part’s 1 & 2 screenwriter, Kevin Williamson reunited to make a fourth film. Did they leave it too long? Could they bring the magic back once more?

In Scream 4 we are taken back to the picture perfect little town of Woodsboro, the setting of the first movie, for the scares once again, and it was like putting on a pair of comfortable shoes. The feel of this movie was far more in keeping with the first movie than the second and third film. Officer Dewey (David Arquette) is now Sheriff Riley, Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) has retired from journalism in order to write her biography and Sidney Prescott is on a book tour to promote her book on being a survivor, with the last stop being her home town. That’s pretty much all you need to know about the plot, aside from the fact that Ghost Face turns up again to start butchering folk….again.

Oh, and you have a savvy cast that help bring the self-referential script to life. So self-referential in fact that aside from talk of sequels, remakes, torture porn and social networking sites, it even plays off its earlier movie. Clever in places, a little forced at times, but fun to watch nonetheless. The Stab movies, which are the in movie dramatizations of the events portrayed are now up to Stab 7 so we know that the filmmakers are deliberately playing into their own movie never-ending circle.

I did get the feeling whilst watching this movie that it was the beginning of a new saga. Whilst it was good to see the likes of Arquette, Cox and Campbell back in familiar roles it almost felt as though they weren’t needed, in particular Cox. Still, they played their roles well and balanced out nicely with their new and younger, for the most part, co-stars.

Whether this film was needed is a moot point, I enjoyed the hell out of it and I am sure many others will. Of course the cynics will snarl and grumble about it. What else would they do? After all, this film takes pot-shots at them too. This is a good film in which it is quite obvious that Craven and Williamson have put a lot of thought into it, maybe too much in places. And you only need to compare this to Craven’s previous movie to see the difference in quality.

Maybe there is a little nostalgia creeping in on my behalf, maybe not. Scream 4 is a more enjoyable movie than the previous two sequels, and whilst it isn’t close to matching the first film it still hits most of the right spots. It’s bloody, funny and at times surprising, even when you see something coming a mile away.

At the end of the day this is a sequel, albeit a good one, so you are automatically going to making comparisons and judgments about it, I know I did. There is plenty of new and original horror out there to find if you look for it. In the meantime I am going to enjoy revisiting some old friends in Woodsboro. 

Scream 4 is released on Blu-ray and DVD on October 4th through Anchor Bay Entertainment


Fred [The Wolf] said...

Great review. I feel the same way about it. It sucks it didn't do better because it was one of the better horror films of the year. I do wish the film had ended 10 minutes before it actually did. Would have made for an interesting sequel if done.

Lord of Filth said...

It is a shame. I missed it at the theater, I think because we went to see Insidious instead. In the past I would have seen both but with the kids it isn't always easy to get out. It's the only one I haven't seen at the theater. It definitely has replay-ability to me though and will no doubt get another run out over Halloween!

Anonymous said...

I got to see this one, I was iffy about it but the more and more reviews I see, the true horror fans, the diehard horror fans seem to like it so I need to give it ago.