Scream 4 (2011)

DVD Cover (Anchor Bay)
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Overall Rating 65%
Overall Rating
Ranked #956
...out of 13,209 movies
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Connections: Scream

Sidney Prescott, now the author of a self-help book, returns home to Woodsboro on the last stop of her book tour. There she reconnects with Sheriff Dewey and Gale, who are now married, as well as her cousin Jill and her Aunt Kate. Unfortunately, Sidney's appearance also brings about the return of Ghostface, putting Sidney, Gale, and Dewey, along with Jill, her friends, and the whole town of Woodsboro in danger. --TMDb
Review by Crispy
Added: May 21, 2016
The Scream trilogy's M.O. has always been breaking down the 80s slasher craze to its core elements and hanging them out for the world to see, following the rules of its genre while tongue-in-cheekily acknowledging that it's doing so. Eleven years after the trilogy concluded, the slasher rules have changed (in no small part due to the 90s revival that Scream itself brought about), and Scream 4 is here to teach us the new rules of the game.

It's been a decade since Sidney last faced a crazed killer with a cell phone and a Ghostface mask, and as the old adage goes, time heals all wounds. Indeed, she's worked on getting past her paranoia and "victim" status, releasing a book on her struggle back to her feet and as a bit of a publicity stunt, she's returned to Woodsbury on the anniversary of Billy and Stu's massacre for a book signing. There she reconnects with faces both familiar (Dewey is now the sheriff and happily married to Gail, who's given up her high-profile, gossip-fueled life) and new (she's staying with her mother's sister, Kate, and her daughter, Jill). Unfortunately, returning to her old town has stirred up more than just memories, and the morning she arrives she learns that two kids have been brutally murdered the night before. Naturally, Jill and her friends are more than a little uneasy about staying in the house with Sidney, especially as the bodies start piling up.

Scream 4 is much less of a horror movie than its predecessors. Don't get me wrong, there's still plenty of teeny slashing going on, but the whodunit aspect is much more in the forefront. As the movie spells out again and again, the new norm is purposefully going against the norm and literally every character, including Sydney herself at times, is a red herring. Now this slight genre shift didn't bother me nearly as much as it usually would since they've had that whodunit flair since the very beginning. It's just a bit more pronounced this time. Along with this 'anything-goes' mentality, we also delve a little bit into the viral nature of the 21st century's tendency to film everything for the internet and the unstoppable trend of remaking horror classics that has been going on for the better part of a decade. That last part was handled very nicely in the film's climax, but it was shoehorned just a bit too hard in the rest of the movie. There's a scene where Ghostface asks one of his victims a trivia question about a horror remake and they interrupt the question to list a huge list of films that have recently been given the reboot treatment. It was a bit much.

That's not to say it's slacking as a slasher though. While Ghostface's kills have always been relatively mundane hunting knife stabbings, they usually get one or two in each movie that stands out and this movie is no exception. Plus, that handful of new tricks representing a new decade in horror helps to differentiate it from the original films. The jovial, party-like atmosphere of this town concerning its "personal" horror franchise, Stab (which is up to Stab 7), was a great way to reintroduce the meta elements that defines this series without totally rehashing the previous films. The characters have also grown nicely in the past decade. When franchises start back up, a lot of them have a bad habit of either keeping them completely stagnant in the interim or reducing them to caricatures of their former selves. Scream 4 dodges that bullet beautifully, as the Riley's marriage and Sidney's regrowth, once again, lets the series enjoy its classic elements while breathing new life into the sequel.

That growth aside, there is unfortunately a bit of a problem with our characters, both old and new. Namely, very few of them are even remotely likable. The whole lot of them suffer from various levels of self-centerism, and franchise mainstays Dewey and Sidney are the only two I wasn't actively rooting to get eviscerated. Gail in particular is on a whole other level here. Granted, she's been intolerable the entire series, but now with the added entitlement of being the sheriff's wife, she is absolutely unbearable. Speaking of, we've also got Dewey's deputy who's trying to seduce him, married man or no. We've got Kate, who almost seems jealous of the attention her dead sister has gotten. We've got the cliche film geeks who are more interested in the visceral side of the story instead of the shattered lives. And then we have Jill's friends, who are your typical, self-absorbed high school girls who feel people are there solely for their own benefit. Sure, it didn't actually ruin the movie, but having somebody to actually root for would have gone a long way.

To be perfectly honest, I had very low expectations going into this, but I have to admit that I didn't hate it. It has a solid standing as the next phase of our characters' lives, and if nothing else, it's certainly better than the mediocre third entry. I can't say it's going to revitalize the series like they hoped it would, but it's worth checking out if you're a fan of the franchise. 6.5/10.
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