Scream 4

I had other commitments on the opening weekend for this one so I didn’t get around to seeing it until last night.  In truth I actually hadn’t seen any of the Scream movies in ful,l other than the first one, until just recently in order to get up to speed before going to see number 4. See when these were coming out, I was pretty much completely opposed to these "hip and modern" teen horror shows because to me they just seemed like pussy versions of better movies that came before them, and I didn't like how they came across like they were somehow above the horror genre (they even tried to say they weren't horror, but "thrillers" implying that was somehow more high-brow, bah!).

Out of the first three the original is definitely the superior film (despite the acting being pretty hokey in a number of scenes; you can just feel the early nineties oozing from every performance, and it hasn’t aged quite as nicely as similar films from the 80’s).  The sequels were just too damn tame, conforming right in with the rest of the shitty “teen horror” flicks at the time (I Know What You Did Last Summer, Urban Legend, etc).
Now we have part 4.  After the end of the third movie I wasn’t really too sure how the story could continue plot wise.  At this point the whole “dark secrets of her family’s past” obligatory plot twist had already been stretched so thin that if they were to once again go down that road I think it would surely snap.  They didn’t really do that this time, which was good, although without spoiling the mystery here I’ll say motive wise this entry was definitely the weakest yet.  I suppose in a way they were using it as a satire of this current day and age were reality TV and the internet has turned trailer trash, dysfunctional twits, and brainless sluts like the cast of Jersey Shore or Paris Hilton into celebrities, but character wise I didn’t find it very believable.  Never mind the glaring un-believability that the people who end up being the killers could’ve actually performed the physical feats you have been watching for the last 90 minutes or so.

The other thing that bugged me about this movie, and I couldn’t agree more with Vern’s comments on this (check out his review), is how these characters are supposed to be really savvy horror geeks, and the killer is supposed to be asking this really difficult questions of them, but you get shit like “who played Leatherface in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre?” or “what weapon does Freddy Krueger use to kill people?”.  Give me a fucking break, everyone and their fucking dog can answer those questions.  And since everyone in the movie is using some kind of smart phone, even if they for some reason happened to be living in an underground bunker for the last 30 years and couldn’t answer those questions, all they’d have to do is fucking look it up on imdb.  If you’re trying to make this movie where it’s all wink-wink and nods to your horror geek audience, don’t make your reference so fucking dumbed down that hicks with an IQ of 35 can get it.  They aren’t listening to the dialogue anyway, they just want to see naked chicks get stabbed (sorry, no naked chicks here, another minus on the slasher scale I’m afraid).

This might sound like I didn’t like this at all.  Actually despite its flaws (and Courtney Cox looking like some kind of emaciated mummy these days) I had a good time at the theatre with this one.  For one thing, although it is a sequel past the number 3 point (usually the point where quality takes a dive off the deep end) at least it isn’t yet another fucking remake.  I also liked how this movie chose remakes as it’s material to parody, with the new generation of movie geeks in this one using that as their “meta” knowledge to try and survive the murders. 
Because it isn’t the 90’s anymore and wimpy teen horror has been replaced by the brutal gore of flicks like the Saw franchise and the rest of the so called “torture porn” films of the last several years, the violence gets a healthy boost here.  The murders are all much more drawn out and sadistic and the film never shies away from showing the stabbings in all of their gory detail.  Big points from me here, this is some of the best movie slashing to come along in a VERY long time (I don’t classify the “torture porn” flicks as slashers so they don’t count, this one is definitely a pure slasher film though).  One scene seemed like it might have been censored for this R-rated print, so I’m also hoping we get an even more brutal unrated cut when it makes its way to home video.  Now if we can get a box set with all 4 and a director’s cut version of the first movie as well (believe it or not that one had to be cut as well in order to avoid the dreaded NC-17 at the time and hasn’t been available uncut since the Laser Disc domestically) that would be nice.

I also dug that they got all of the surviving cast members back for another round.  Like I said earlier Courtney is lookin’ pretty haggard these days (at least 80% plastic by my estimation) but it was nice to see them all back, and the performances were all solid from each of the franchise veterans.  Even the new generation was pretty decent.  I did find some of the jokier dialogue while people were being murdered didn’t really work in the movie’s favour. The original Scream did a better job of separating the jokes from the violence to balance out the horror and comedy elements (I still remember how horrified my mom was when she went into it thinking it was going to be a comedy based on the critics' quotes on the front of the video box and then Drew Barrymore and her boyfried get gutted in the first fifteen minutes, awesome!) but all in all I wasn’t cringing too much so that’s a plus.  I’d say acting wise this one was right in line with the second film, and was superior to what we got in the first and third entries.  I also really liked how menacing they made the phone calls from the killer in this one, despite his seemingly lacking horror trivia knowledge.  He sounds nice and sadistic and I dig that shit.  A good slasher has to do some solid menacing before going in for the kill, one reason why I'll always like the original Black Christmas over the gorier but far less serious Black X-Mas remake version.

I’d also like to mention the poster art.  I have to say I actually REALLY like the poster art they did for this one.  It’s minimalistic, but from a design perspective I think melding the ghost face mask into a hunting knife point is sheer genius, and it fits the movie like a glove.  This really was a Scream movie with a nice shot in the arm of modern bite, and the mask going to the point of a knife conveys that nicely me thinks. Click the thumbnail above to check out a bigger version.

This didn’t do so hot opening weekend, and was beaten out by some CG cartoon with a parrot that I’d never heard of, so that’s kinda hurtin’, but hopefully it does decent enough in the rest of its theatrical run to show the suites that you don’t just have to do remakes, you can do sequels too.  I know, not much better really, but it’s inching just that little bit closer to an honest to goodness NEW movie. Oh yeah, and it wasn't in 3-D either which will probably be refreshing for a good number of you (me inlcuded, I'm getting a bit tired of that gimmick personally).

Slash fans need to see this one, it’s pure popcorn entertainment with enough gore and sadism to put it ahead of the pack when stacked up against some of its modern peers (the remake of Prom Night comes to mind, PG-13 slasher is an oxymoron in this dojo).