Sunday, April 17, 2011
Scream 4: 3/5
The movie that every horror fan has been waiting for has finally arrived, and doesn't disappoint -- well, almost. Scream 4 tries to be this super smart and sleek and fully self-aware horror film that exploits the mechanics of all the new horror franchises and remakes that have become popular in America over the past decade the Scream films have been on hiatus.
Within the first 5 minutes of the movie, Saw has already been name dropped and there has been a comment on J-horror remakes. This is alright for a set-up to a film that supposedly "dissects" the horror genre and exposes all the world for it to see, but unfortunately it comes across a little too Scary Movie-like. I also felt a little annoyed with the Anna Paquin cameo, because it almost felt forced to be there at all, and I was the most excited for that one.
As the film pushes through, it starts to actually feel like a Scream movie and not its cheap knock-off. Ghost Face is a little more logical on his horror film deconstruction, knowing that Peeping Tom was the first of the voyeuristic stare and slasher craze, plus many of the high school kids are supposed horror film geeks as well (their film club itself seems to revolve around classic 70's horror films) and they all love the Stab franchise. However exciting this is for a person like me who is currently in a class that specifically studies horror films, the characters in their entirety still lack one important element that even in the beginning one of the cameos states isn't in torture-porn franchises these days (ironic, huh?) - character development.
You can try all you want to defend it, but every single one of the characters that lasts until the final bloodshed doesn't have one distinct quality that separated them from each other. Maybe this could be seen as a continued exploration of the Internet generation's inability to relate to each other, but I see it as poor story telling. Every high school kid seems so unaffected by the stabbings, it's almost insulting. They prank call their friends and ask them "What's your favorite scary movie?" constantly throughout as they make googly eyes at the town's returning celeb - Sidney Prescot. However, the lack of character development could be as simple as there were too many characters that could have been called the protagonist, and not enough to call the supporting cast.
In the beginning you have the trio of semi-popular girls (Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, and Marielle Jaffe) who have 2 boy-stalkers (Rory Culkin and Erik Knudsen) and an evil ex (Nico Tortorella); plus if that's not enough you have 3 returning cast members (Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette) and one new police officer who has a mad crush on Dewey (Marley Shelton). All totaled up, that's 10 people to keep track of, and at least 7 of them are prime suspects to be Ghost Face.
Another fault in this movie is the timing of the killings. Once the killer is revealed, and you go over all the killings in your head, it almost seems impossible that no one ever discovered their identity, especially Sidney.
A lot of the movie also tries to mirror the first and best Scream to the exact, and they also mention a few times in Scream 4 that it's impossible for any movie to "fuck with the original." Maybe the writers tried to use it as an excuse for it not being as great, but I just found it a cop out to attempt to make it fantastic.
It just feels like I'm simply complaining about the movie at this point, but I actually did like it. If any new character had any potential to be a new favorite, Hayden Panettiere sure was the best candidate. Also, the twist ending (though I found it a little obvious who the killer was) was still so brutal and sweet, but I don't want to spoil anything :). As far as slashers go, this one is an enjoyable and mindless remake, or continuation (whatever the forth movie wanted to play itself as) that could beat up Saw 4's trickiness any day. Some feel there isn't much room for a slasher film these days, but I see it differently. People want stabbings now more than ever while the torture porn industry is swaying slightly to the unpopular (but not for me, of course). I say, we should just bring back the good old 2nd half of the 90's horror films like I Know What you Did Last Summer and Urban Legend for the pure enjoyable creative stabbings they had to offer. Everyone still loves a psycho killer with a crazed mission and Scream 4 shows just that.