Posted in: News, ReviewsPublished: April 13, 2011
. . The fourth installment opens with a few audience misdirects, using the movie within a movie gag to full effect, and giving us more than enough cameos of Hollywood's hot young female talent. Once we get back to Sidney's hometown of Woodsboro, we're introduced to a whole new class of high school students, all familiar with their town's murderous past, but too young and dumb to care it seems. Dewey and Gale are still there, living out their married life in what appears to be extreme tedium, while Dewey is now the town Sheriff. His enthusiastic Deputy Judy Hicks (Marley Shelton) seems more than a little taken with him, and Gale is apparently out of the reporting game and just plain bored. Sidney comes back to town for the last stop on her autobiographical book tour, and it isn't long before ol' Ghostface shows up and starts wreaking havoc. So many troubled teens (a.k.a. red herrings) are thrown our way it's hard to keep up, each one feeling less important than the other. The murders this time are very graphic, and highly random. As things get more and more tense, Gale sees a chance to reinvent herself using some of the high school's more knowledgeable horror philes. Sidney finds herself bonding with and trying to protect her estranged niece Jill Roberts (played by Emma Roberts), though even under home protection it seems Ghostface has no trouble getting to them both. The big unanswered question, of course, is why after all these years is this happening again? Why with Sindey's return has someone seized an opportunity to reopen old woulds... and open lots of new ones too? There is a message behind SCRE4M, not unlike the message behind the first SCREAM. Where the innaugural effort strived to turn formulaic slasher fare on its head, the fourth outing plays off of a more common and more modern issue... Hollywood's obsession with remakes and reboots. The concept of not messing with what works is a big part of the Craven/Williamson effort here, but it's sadly lost for the most part in a rather messy and ineffective script. While it's somewhat fun to see the old favorites back in familiar territory, Williamson misses the mark in giving them anything new and different to do. Sidney, Dewey and Gale have become such cookie cutter characters in their own franchise, it's almost like they're just there to be there, for the familiarity and nothing more. And the new characters, while fairly varied and potentially interesting, end up being little more than knife fodder for Ghostface. Certain characters, such as Robbie (Erik Knudsen) and Charlie (Rory Culkin) who are the school's resident film geeks, feel pretty much like a replacement to Jamie Kennedy's character from the original trilogy. Other roles like Sidney's niece Jill (Emma Roberts) and her cocky ex-boyfriend Trevor (Nico Tortorella) are so under-developed, it feels like laziness on the part of the filmmakers. Hayden Panetierre (HEROES) has the most chance of being a memorable part, especially when we the audience discover her private obsession with horror films, but in the end it serves no real purpose or point. SCRE4M sadly suffers many of the problems SCREAM 3 had, in that it's lost the charm that made the first film fun, and is too complicated for its own good. Even the overly long ending misses the mark in its potential for audience satisfaction. It looks like Craven intends this not as a final nail in the coffin for his franchise, but rather a potential new beginning. But in either case it just doesn't work. I hope the younger audience this is likely intended for will see through the sloppy way in which it's put together, and demand more from their horror fare. In the new film's defense, it does manage to be somewhat entertaining, and the scares did seems to work on the audience, but I left feeling cold and unimpressed. It's not a terrible movie, just so far from being the great franchise revival that it could have been.