Don’t think for a second that I’m going to be a raving advocate for Scream 4 — because, quite frankly, after a few decades of watching films and writing about them, I have a big problem giving hugs n’ kisses to any film with a number, roman numeral, or cutesy subtitle immediately following the title. (And here, you thought Ghostface was scary….the freak might’ve just met his match with yours truly, Mr. Cranky Pants.)
That said, I will give credit to this horror sequel; 11 years after the last chapter (which sucked, by the way), this gang has somehow found a way to keep their grisly exercise fresh.
Not meadow fresh, mind you. But hey, the fact that Wes Craven and his crew are taking a stab for the fourth time and actually connecting deserves a smattering of applause, does it not?
Perhaps the answer to that will depend on just how you approach this thing.
After all, as Scream 2 told us, sequels are inferior by default. Tough to argue when the logic comes straight from the source.
Bringing back writer Kevin Williamson is a smart move, though. His clever script for the original film back in 1996, a classic that all but saved the genre by poking fun at it, set the bar for fright flicks.
Forget, for a moment, that almost every horror movie since has hammered its skull on that bar — it was the gold standard of bump-in-the-night fare, ‘nuff said.
With Scream 4, Williamson pays homage to his own wink-wink, nudge-nudge style in dissecting the clichéd facets that go into horror movies, while delivering a few good chills at the same time.
The plot has Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) returning to her hometown on the final stretch of a book tour, only to find that a new Ghostface slasher is on the loose.
Former reporter Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) is now married to Sheriff Dewey Riley (David Arquette), and the trio sniff out clues to try and uncover the identity of the killer.
Emma Roberts (a little odd seeing Nancy Drew parading through this) is a nice addition as Sidney’s cousin, and the presence of capable stars like Hayden Panettiere, Kristin Bell and Anna Paquin is quite refreshing … although it does break a pretty standard rule for horror movies: quality acting isn’t traditionally allowed.
Out of a possible five stars, I’ll give Scream 4 a three.
The feature is currently playing at the Pen-Mar Cinema Centre in Penticton.
Jason Armstrong is a movie review living in the Okanagan.