I'm finishing up this week's festivities by talking about the newest horror flick on the scene, Wes Craven's Scream 4.
Sidney's (Neve Campbell) return to Woodsboro is met with another series of killings based on the original murders.
So... yah, Scream 4 was okay. Better than a kick in the teeth I suppose, although I would be hard pressed to find you a reason why this movie needed to exist. The main problem is that it's just painfully mediocre. Early on in the movie, there is some dialogue about how modern horror sucks because minimal character development breeds ones we don't feel anything for. Then, Scream 4 goes ahead and commits that very same crime. It introduces a bunch of people that, save for perhaps Hayden Panettiere – who I likely just miss from my break-up with Heroes – I couldn't have cared less about. Even seeing the original trio (Campbell, Courteney Cox & David Arquette) again didn't elicit the response I was hoping for. It was exactly like when the second X-Files movie came out. Watching David Duchovny as Mulder was strange, as I'd since moved on.
There is more to this not being a winner, than just being unnecessary though. The whole thing seems off somehow. Much like Scream 3, you can tell it was being pulled in different directions at times. The fact that Wes Craven had already distanced himself from the script speaks volumes about what happened during the production. The ending feels weirdly tacked on, and to be just a little spoiler-y, how the killer gets caught is just lame. After all their elaborate staging, they get nabbed because of a throwaway line of dialogue? Ridiculous. It all felt like something Ehren Kruger came up with in his trailer between reshoots.
Not in the movie, FYI.
I think we've reached the tipping point with all this self referential, movie-within-a-movie stuff. It is no longer clever, it's just tedious. The original Scream was a groundbreaking film. It was fresh and revitalized a genre that, for anyone who was a horror fan in the mid-nineties knows, needed a shake-up. I think Scream 4 represents another crossroads where someone needs to come along and reset the game. And I mean something more than the current retro-movement of making films look and feel like those from the golden age. I don't know how this will be achieved, but it has to happen, otherwise we are in for some really stale and uninspiring fare. Now, I'm speaking more specifically of North American horror here. We know other parts of the world are still cranking out solid stuff, but the general public, with their misguided “if I wanted to read, I'd buy a book” mentality, won't ever see them unless they are repackaged – for better or more likely worse – by Hollywood.
At the end of the day, Scream 4 was semi-enjoyable because of its familiarity – which I guess is what the money men were counting on – but there is not much separating this from any of the other glossy Hollywood horror fare that hits screens on a regular basis. My advice is go see Insidious instead because at least those guys realize you need to adapt to stay relevant.