Let’s scream again . . . like we did 10 years ago. To any of you youngsters new to the franchise, this fourth installment relatively hinges on the history of its characters. The trio of leads from the preceeding movies (Courtney Cox, Neve Campbell, David Arquette) shockingly signed on to this resuscitation, likely rescuing production.
But let’s not underestimate this niche genre. Scream succeeds, as always, with intertextuality. A rudimentary knowledge of slasher conventions will serve the viewer well with these pictures, for Scream parodies the rules of the genre handed down for decades. Of course, this film boasts changing the rules. It certainly bends them. Either way, get ready for plenty of blood and stabbing and high school girls and inept cops. It’s a thrill ride with 1/9th of the Wu in a mask.
Here’s the spread:10 years have passed (in real time and cinema time) since Ghostface’s last assault on Sidney Prescott (Campbell) and the innocent high schoolers of Woodsboro. Since Scream 2, Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson have made use of a metacinematic joke: a series of movies called Stab (an homage to Carpenter’s Halloween, but fictionally directed by Robert Rodriguez), based on the unsolved Woodsboro Ghostface murders from the first film. Really, it’s hilarious and tasteful, and if you’re a slasher film fan, it’s easy to latch onto the fun of the Scream series. What’s great is that Ghostface attacks Gale Weathers (Cox) during his own film festival.
Alright, to wrap up, Scream has never been a high grossing franchise ($161 mil. tops), but aren’t you sick of these goofy, artless torture flicks? Hostel, Saw, etc. took the place of slashers in recent years, but this is a leap in the wrong direction. Scream 4 may not be an Oscar winner, but it balances action, suspense, bloody murder, teenage girls and comedy without running its head against the wall. Let’s hope this is the last installment, but to those who grew up with the series, get the spoof and miss the old style slashers, it’s really quite a breath of fresh air.