Scream 4

Scream 4 attempts to re-redefine the genre, but unfortunately falls into a trap that the original so smartly avoided.

In 1996, Scream smashed the box-office by redefining the concept of horror-slasher movies. Scream 4 attempts to re-redefine the genre, but unfortunately falls into a trap that the original so smartly avoided. While the movie starts off with a cheeky sequence of winks at the audience that promises a good time, it regresses into a standard uninspired sequel complete with exploitation of cheap thrills. In fact, Scream (the original), still serves as the perfect foil for Scream 4, the latter being the kind of movie that the former ridiculed in the first place.

Fifteen years to the date after the initial killing spree, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) returns to the town of Woodsboro as the last stop for her book tour. Dewey Riley (David Arquette) is now the town sheriff and Gale Riley (a haggard looking Courtney Cox) is his bored wife. On cue, the killings start again and Sidney, along with cousin Jill (Emma Roberts) and her close buddies (Hayden Panettiere, Rory Culkin, etc.) find their lives at the receiving end of a knife that belongs to the legendary killer: Ghostface. But this time, even the killer knows the rules.

Much as anticipated, Scream 4 references itself and other slasher movies right from the onset. But director Wes Craven seems to have exhausted his creative streak after a smart opening sequence. As the movie plunges more and more into brazen shoddiness with each subsequent killing, the futility of stretching the franchise becomes apparent. Unlike the first Scream, which this movie must be compared to, the characters here are not intelligently written self-aware clichés, but are incredibly stupid self-aware clichés. In trying to out-smart itself, the movie collapses under its own pretentiousness, settling in the territory between unnecessary sequel and rip-off B-movie.

The biggest failing of Scream 4 is how meta-movie it gets. There are so many references and winks in the movie that soon after the first set of murders, the audience realizes how fake all of it is – none of the subsequent killings invoke any sense of thrill, fear or laughter. Wes Craven and the Weinsteins, producers of the movie, have the idea completely wrong here. The movie would have worked in the best possible way if it did exactly what was not expected of it – a genuine teen-slasher movie that, even if sticking to genre-rules, would take itself seriously.

Wes Craven, veteran director of such genre classics as A Nightmare on Elm Street (original), The Hills Have Eyes (original) and The Last House on the Left (original), not to forget Scream (original), does not have much of an excuse for this misstep that seems to be more commercially driven than anything else. As iconic as Ghostface is, this resurrection is unwarranted. In fact, about now is just the right time for another original from Mr Craven.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆


About Shariq Madani

Shariq is a social, talkative, fun-loving guy who enjoys books, food and a long drive. But his real joy is in the comfortable darkness of a cinema, watching a good movie, and later spending hours discussing it.