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Scream 4 – 7

Director – Wes Craven

Cast – Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courteney Cox, Emma Roberts, Erik Knudsen, Rory Culkin, Marley Shelton, Hayden Panettiere, Marielle Jaffe, Alison Brie, Nico Tortorella, Anthony Anderson, Adam Brody, Gordon Michaels, Mary McDonnell, Britt Robertson, Aimee Teegarden, Kristen Bell, Anna Paquin, Dane Farwell, Shenae Grimes, Roger Jackson, Lucy Hale

Release Year – 2011

Reviewed by John of the Dead

When I think of the Scream franchise I immediately think of Wes craven and just how well known the series is in regards to popular culture. Ghostface’s mask is synonymous with serial killers and the horror genre in general, and Wes Craven’s popular (and profitable) franchise was brought back to the forefront of the horror scene with Scream 4. While the first Scream is a “classic”, Scream 2 was enjoyable and Scream 3 was very mediocre, leaving a somewhat distasteful image on what was previously a respectable franchise. When word that Scream 4 was in production I thought to myself, “WHY do another?”, especially considering that I have never been a huge fan of the series, and because of my lack of interest I waited a long time until I gave Scream 4 a chance. The reviews were positive and the scene seemed to have respected it, but nonetheless I took my time and eventually realized that this is in fact a good horror experience and proof that Wes Craven is still a great director despite his last great (original) film, Scream, debuting 18 years prior.

10 years have passed since Sidney Prescott last stepped foot in Woodsboro and since then she has put her life back together as a self-help author/writer. Her book tour brings her back to Woodboro and her arrival is one that will be etched in history when Ghostface once again returns and begins killing students from Woodsboro High. Sidney, Dewey, and his wife Gale Weathers-Riley must once again team up to stop this new killer, but not before having to learn from a the new generation the “new rules” of surviving horror films.

I mentioned earlier that I have never been a huge fan of the Scream series, but I was definitely digging the majority of this film. It starts off very well, with Kevin Williamson’s screenplay toying with the viewer in a very long but very satisfying opening sequence that definitely had me hooked on the experience. After the the film is just as expected, with the killings taking place around town and its bumbling police force trying desperately to catch the killer while their officers are slowly slashed to death one by one. The officer deaths are collateral damage though, as the killer’s main focus is to kill those with any relation to Sidney and he/she focuses on the friends of Sidney’s youngest living relative…her niece. The viewers and Gale Weathers-Riley enlist the help of two local film geeks, Robbie Mercer and Charlie Walker, to help them find a killer who is most certainly playing by today’s horror rules. By reading that you should be aware that Williamson’s screenplay once again plays on horror cliches and does not take itself too seriously, so those who enjoy the Scream films will most likely dig this, and those who dislike them will not. At 111 minutes the film does move at a good pace, developing nicely and giving us plenty of kills (15 in total) to keep our interest. Sadly, the majority of the positives end there and by the end of the film I was nowhere near as excited as I was during its first two acts. I don’t know what it is about this series, but once the killer is revealed I wind up losing interest in the experience. I felt the story was great up until the middle of the third act, where the typical Scream nonsense makes its way forward and gives us a less than satisfying conclusion. Overall the story is still a success, but it did not end as well as it started.

I mentioned earlier that Wes Craven proved he is still a great director thanks to this experience, and I really meant it. His execution of the film is what really kept me engaged and he made this not only a “fun” film but one that was serious enough to bring some good horror as well. I have always been a fan of his atmosphere and uncanny ability to make any pleasant home a scary one, and he employs such tactics in this piece. His execution of the horror was great and I loved how brutal his kill scenes were, especially in comparison to his previous scream films. Apparently this is the first in the series where a CGI knife was used, and while I normally bock at CGI I never once noticed the knife being of CGI origin so I had no real issues with that, especially since the blood and gore were live action and there was plenty of it. One thing that I found very cool about the direction of the film was the supreme execution of the “Stab” films that were watched by our protagonists and shown to a sea of high school students at a “Stabathon” held off campus. At the end of one of the Stab films I noticed the credits saying “A Robert Rodriguez Film”, and sure enough…the Stab films were indeed directed by Robert Rodriguez and my horror geek status was at an all time high. In the end, Wes Craven shows that he still has what it takes as a director to put out a solid directing job, and I hope he will soon give us a great non-Scream film for us to marvel at.

Overall, Scream 4 is a positive addition to the series that starts off well but sadly does not finish as strong. This is the obvious second best entry into the series and it comes with plenty of gore, kills, and horror to appease fans of the genre and especially those who actually enjoy these films. Story-wise you get the usual Scream antics, but Williamson’s story is guaranteed to be a fun one that I assume is best experienced with a group of friends. While I did enjoy this film I would not recommend it to those who dislike the series, but for everyone else I say give this one a watch and see what Wes Craven can do in this modern day.

Rating: 7/10

…Additional Stills…

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