In Scream 4, a copycat of the Ghostface Killer targets Woodsboro teens just in time for Sidney Prescott’s (Neve Campbell) return to her hometown to promote her book. She meets familiar faces like Dewey (David Arquette) and Gale (Courteney Cox) as well as the new generation of high school students which include her cousin Jill (Emma Roberts) and the film geeks who are devoted fans of the fictional movie franchise that is based on her life.
Other critics are starting to pounce on this film, and I agree that there are a lot of flaws within this new installment. Do you want a list?
- Their dialogue is never organic, always self-referential. Remember, directors, winking is sexy but too much of it is just disconcerting.
- The way they talk about each other is mean-spirited and sometimes pornographic.
- The Hitchcock references are so condescending that director Wes Craven probably thinks that none of us watch TCM.
- The town keeps populating despite its high homicide rates.
- An Oscar winner and a two time Oscar nominee are terrible here.
- The victims don’t use the buddy system even if the killers have done so successfully for the past three films.
- Jill and her group have no black friends, so much so that Ghostface’s costume might as well be a white sheet instead a black one.
- Scream 4 misleads.
I did notice a few interesting things about this movie, and some of them are good. Like when everyone calls Sidney a ‘victim’ as opposed to a ‘survivor,’ a more politically correct term that the Ghostface begrudgingly uses.
Scream 4 also portrays a living body’s functions and movements just as much as it does after the person’s death. Ghostface isn’t content to just kill, he wrestles his victims down before turning them into wallpaper. His victims fall down stairs or buildings more heavily than they have previously done. Like always, the serial killer meets his match with Sidney, who kicks, punches and blocks him. Their encounters, of course, reveals the Ghostface’s stunt work – when Sidney kicks him down the stairs he jumps instead of simply falling. It’s like every character has a gym membership, despite them mostly sitting down with their iPhones and laptops and watching movies.
They also don’t make 21-year-olds like they used to, as full-bodied women like Rose McGowan make way for frail looking creatures like Shenae Grimes. And of course, no one can top Drew Barrymore, and not just because she was the first. Slasher films in general can be retitled “expendable ingenues,” but the actresses in this film arguably have room to show their talents. Many of them here have comedy backgrounds, coming in handy with the films funny and scary sides. Emma Roberts, touted to take Campbell’s place as the Scream queen, knows how to flow within the insanity of the crimes as well as her own high school dramas. I have also come around to liking Courteney Cox again, becoming a enjoyably tough broad with age.
The real revelation here is Hayden Panettiere, playing Jill’s best friend Kirby. Yes, we know she’s spunky because of her leather jacket and short hair. She’s also the main girl in the film geek club, the one who finds the best use for her iPhone while her peers keep losing theirs, the nerd’s wet dream without dressing like one, the one who can out-trivia the boys. When the Ghostface asks her a trivia question, she throws in Piranha. She knows how to slip in the nuances of humor and fear at the same time and she deservedly steals the show.
And with Gale, Sidney and her publicist Rebecca (Alison Brie) as urbanites coming to Woodsboro, this cast dresses better than the ones in the previous Scream films. The women sport body-hugging dresses, Gale with her brown leather jacket, Rebecca with her trench coat. The boys hold their own too. Jill’s ex-boyfriend Trevor (Nico Tortorella) looks like a creepy version of an H&M commercial and even, Robbie (Erik Knudsen), a film geek, has a double buttoned shirt. Too bad that many of those pieces of clothing will be lopped or hewed, just like many things within or about this film, including a third act that might just be too crazy for any actor or actress to handle, even if, say, Tilda Swinton ended up being the killer.
Notes: Rated R for strong bloody violence, language and some teen drinking, 111 minutes.