SCREAM 4 (BLU-RAY)
Reviewed by: Dave Murray
What's it about
Perpetual victim Sidney Prescott returns to Woodsboro for the last stop on her self-help book tour, which just happens to coincide with the anniversary of the events of the original Scream. And the self-referential meta-horror begins again as a whole new slew of teens is butchered by the Ghostface killer, this time with some modern twists and some amped up carnage. Can the original trio of Sidney, Dewey and Gale survive the new rules of the horror reboot and solve this whodunit slasher?
Is it good movie?
I thought it was great, but I didn't love it. Confused? Me too, so let me explain. I loved the first Scream, everything from the self-referential attitude, to the playful twisting of cliche and tropes, to the gory kills and to the glee of seeing whatever poor mook was dressed as Ghostface get his ass kicked repeatedly by his victims. Wes Craven has this habit of making a movie at the beginning of each decade that not only revitalizes the genre, but also reinvents the rules, changing the horror game for everyone else. While not so much new and revitalizing, Scream 4 does play out in terms of the new rules of the horror remake or reboot, and has some witty commentary about the modern nature of fame in the digital age. While not as groundbreaking as the first film, or maybe even the second, it triumphs over the third (which I downright hated, mostly because Parker Posey makes me want to punch a baby every time she's on screen!), and it's certainly better than the majority of "safe" PG-13 horror movies I've seen this year.
The flick kicks off with a triple dose of movie-within-a-movie fun, and it gets it's meta vibe on early thanks to references to the previous films, the fictional in-universe Stab franchise, the Saw franchise, and horror remakes and reboots in general. We are also treated to a huge cast of cameos, which run the gamut from one shots (like Anna Paquin, Kristen Bell, Lucy Hale and Shenae Grimes) to main characters (Hayden Panettiere, Emma Roberts and Marley Shelton) that reads like a who's who of hot young stars. Returning for this new decade are Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette, and it's refreshing to see their characters back in action. Sidney is still the victim, but has some of the better "fu*k you" moments of the movie. Dewey is still the bumbling sheriff, this time just older. And Gale is still a shrewd, opportunistic bitch (was anyone else disturbed by Cox's glaring plastic surgery - maybe the Blu-ray made it more apparent - seriously, the size of her mouth scared me, she looked like the Joker at times!). While the characters were there, the story was just sort of okay. A new Ghostface killer is terrorizing Woodsboro, this time re-imagining the original series of kills for a new generation and streaming it on the internet. Following the rules of a horror remake, the new kills are bloodier, more brutal and, as is the case with some of them, more creative and unexpected. On the flip side, a lot of the meta crap felt forced, like the film club scene discussing the rules of the remake and modern horror and technology. It just didn't have the same vibe as the Jamie Kennedy's "rules" scene in the first movie. Maybe the whole self aware horror idea is dead and buried, making this more nostalgic fun than groundbreaking horror? Who knows.
On the effects side of things, all of that digital blood looked great, but I'm a guy who likes his kills to be realistic, and not so campy. I like to see and feel the horror, those terrible wince inducing moments of violence that drive home the terror. Some of the kills were spot on, while others were just plain silly and played entirely for laughs (like one character getting stabbed in the forehead and then taking forever to die, talking the whole time, I mean come on!). I get that Craven is trying for some of the horror/comedy juxtaposition that created some pretty jarring moments of mood whiplash in his earlier movies (Last House on the Left anyone), but a lot of the comedy here just felt inserted into the ramped up horror mayhem. I'm gonna attribute that to the differences in writing style between Williamson and Kruger, and a script that felt kind of disconnected from it's own material, while at the same time trying to be clever and referential and hip to the point of being overdone and heavy handed.
But all faults aside, it was still a fitting contribution to the franchise, and a bloody fun tribute to the original! If this is the start of a new trilogy, I'll be along for the ride regardless. Unless Parker Posey is involved, then I'm going home.
Video / Audio
Video: Both the DVD and Blu-ray discs here are in 2.35:1 Widescreen, with the Blu-ray being in full 1080p.
Audio: For the Blu-ray we have English 5.1 DTSHD-MA, and the DVD has English Dolby Digital 5.1. Both discs have English and Spanish subtitles.
We have some short but tasty filler features here, starting with an Alternate Opening and an Extended Ending, which I liked less than the ones in the actual film. Then there is an Audio Commentary with Wes Craven, Neve Campbell, Hayden Panettiere and Emma Roberts. Craven and Campbell were more interesting to listen too, as they bring some history and insight into the movie and franchise. This is followed by 15 Deleted and Extended Scenes, which are some standard fare, and a gag Reel, which mostly consists of a dude in the Ghostface costume popping out at the actors and scaring the crap out of them. Finally, there is short Making Of Documentary, that again is pretty standard but an interesting watch.
Despite some weak writing, overly clever references and a couple of weak comedy kills, Scream 4 was a brutal, gory and entertaining ride that brought back some sweet memories of the previous movies, while putting its own 21st Century spin on things. As far as original horror fare goes, it's nothing new, but as part of the franchise it's a fitting continuation and a fine tribute to the past. If it wasn't for a few faults, and a weak ass final sequence (them people are way too medically fu*ked up to be pulling of that shit!), this would have been a perfect October horror feast for me this year. It was good, but not great. Now, let's get going with the next two movies and make this another self aware trilogy! I don't know whether to be excited or frightened by the prospect.