Written by James Rawson, New Media, DFI
Director: Wes Craven
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Cast: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette
Do you like scary movies?
I’m going to be honest: I don’t come in to this review as an objective critic. The Scream franchise means a lot to me, and I do mean A LOT. When I first saw ‘Scream’ in the late 90s, it was a wonderful moment when everything I previously thought I knew about slasher films was flipped upside down. I had grown up with ‘Halloween’ and ‘Friday the 13’ type films, which are great in their own right, but it was this film that made me realise that horror didn’t just have to be about fear, it could be about ideas too. ‘Scream’ is first and foremost a social commentary, poking fun at a clever-clever generation who thinks they know it all, who’ve swallowed the rule book and view the world from their ironic pedestal. What writer Kevin Williamson does brilliantly, is to set the murderous Ghostface among them and use their own rules to pick them off, one by one.
‘Scream 2’ was a great sequel: scarier, funnier, more self-aware, and it provided the additional element of the Stab films – a film within a film, based on the original murders. ‘Scream 3’? Well, we don’t talk about ‘Scream 3’. It wasn’t written by Kevin Williamson, and quite frankly, it stinks.
And now, 15 years after the original completely reshaped the horror genre, ‘Scream 4’ (or ‘SCRE4M’) is slicing up teens in a cinema near you. Neve Campbell returns as our feisty heroine Sidney Prescott, joined by original cast members Courtney Cox, as reporter Gale Weathers, and David Arquette, as hapless cop Dewey Riley. Sidney is visiting her home town of Woodsboro to promote a new self-help book and, surprise surpise, it’s not long before the bodies start piling up. As the original cast members aren’t quite as youthful as they once were (not including certain parts of Courtney Cox’s face) a new generation of schoolkids has been brought in to freshen things up. Sidney’s cousin Jill (Emma Roberts, Julia’s neice) and best friend Kirby (Hayden Panettiere) head up the new generation trying to outsmart the masked killer.
It’s been over ten years since the last Scream installment, and a lot has changed on the teen horror landscape. We’ve had to endure the rise and fall of ‘gorenography’ (‘Saw’, ‘Hostel’ etc.), and if you’re a teenager who is ONLY connected to your friends by mobile phone, then you’re not very connected. ‘SCRE4M’ has a whole raft of new toys to play with and new pop culture figures to poke fun at, but it still retains the winning formula of the previous films. The laughs are some of the best yet (my screening had two spontaneous rounds of applause), both generations of the cast are on top form, and the whodunit element keeps you guessing until the last scene. The only element slightly lacking is a truly original slasher moment: Craven has fun with the usual clambering-up-the-stairs knife-through-the-door scenario, but there isn’t any sequence that you’ll remember, like Rose McGowan’s cat-flap death in ‘Scream’, or the recording booth chase in ‘Scream 2’. But that’s a minor quibble.
If you’re a fan of the first two films, then you should definitely check out ‘SCRE4M’: it’s funny, intelligent and provides the most biting critique of the twitter generation that I’ve seen yet. And if Kevin Williamson can keep up the writing quality, I’ve got my fingers crossed for ‘5CREAM’ and ‘S6REAM’.