Friday, April 15, 2011

Scream 4 - 3 stars

I was very apprehensive going into this movie. I really enjoyed Scream 1 and 2, was disappointed by Scream 3, and I was afraid this one would suck. Usually when a franchise is revisited after many years (like, I don't know, Crystal Skull maybe), it is just a cash grab and it doesn't live up to the previous entries in the series.

Luckily this one doesn't suck.

Kevin Williamson wrote the first 2 Screams, and when it came time to do the third one, he was busy writing Dawson's Creek. So the producers got Ehren Kruger, one of the hot new writers at the time, to write the third one. I don't know if he was working from a story outline from Williamson or if the movie was entirely his invention, but it wasn't very good. The 4th movie was written by Williamson, and while it isn't as good as the first movie, it is definitely better than the third. I will have to re-watch the second movie to determine how this one compares.

When the first Scream came out, cell phones were pretty new. Well, at least the idea of anyone owning a cell phone was new. By the second movie, everyone had one. This time, they have incorporated facebook, iPhone apps, and live web blogs into the mix. One character is always walking around with a webcam on his head, filming for his video blog. There are also references to the horror movies that have come out in the decade since Scream 3, like the Saw franchise.

I will admit I was a little disappointed that the movie didn't do more with this stuff. They reference that today's audiences want more gruesome kills, but the kills aren't any more gruesome than what I remember from the previous 3 movies. They use web cams and streaming devices a little bit, but nothing is as cool as the sequence in the first movie where Gail plants the camera in Stu's house during the party ("Shit! 20 second delay!").

Part of the plots of Scream 2 and 3 involved Stab, the movie of the events that took place in the first Scream movie. Gail Weathers (Courtney Cox) wrote The Woodsboro Murders after the events of the first film, that was made into the movie Stab, and by Scream 3 they were making the third Stab film. Well, in Scream 4 they have made more than 4 Stab movies and at this point, the events of the first film are so unremarkable that people have iPhone apps to make their voice sound like Ghost Face.

If you aren't a fan of the previous Scream films, I don't know how much you will enjoy this one. You don't have to see (or remember well) each previous installment. The plots are simple enough that you won't really be in the dark if you didn't see Scream 3, for example. But part of the fun is revisiting characters that you like (Sidney, Dewey, and Gail) and seeing what new, clever ways Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson can come up with to torment the characters. Overall this movie succeeds.

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