There are two ridiculous loves I’ve carried with me from my teenage years: 1) horrendous pop music, and 2) the Scream franchise. So basically, when Scream 4 was announced, it was like an ‘N Sync reunion tour on the heels of Britney and Justin finally reconciling (come on, guys, you know you want it, too).
Needless to say, I went in with high expectations. I wanted my vulnerable, badass Sidney Prescott, my intelligent, bitchy Gale Weathers, and my earnest, adorable Deputy Dewey Riley. I wanted to laugh one minute and jump out of my seat the next. I wanted my obvious red herring and my even more obvious killer(s) wrapped up in a shiny, quasi-meta, (post-post?) post-modern examination of horror, all with the movie’s tongue placed firmly in cheek.
What I got was exactly that. I went during the week, early in the day with my girlfriend and we were the only two in the theater, so I got to shout at the victims for being horrendously stupid, laugh inappropriately at people’s guts being ripped out, and shriek without shame when the infamous Ghostface made his appearance. It was what a sequel for this sort of franchise should be: paying homage to what made it so great in the first place and being self-deprecating enough to keep anyone from taking it too seriously and thus ruining their experience.
Am I saying it’s brilliant cinema? Well… depends on your definition of brilliant (come on, it’s Scream you guys), but I will say that if you’re a fan of the franchise, you’re probably going to like it. Sure, there are some things I could have done without. [SPOILERS AHEAD.]
For one, I have mixed feelings about the layered, self-referencing intro, but more positive than negative, so we’ll call it even (I’m especially fond of Kristen Bell’s off-beat character-as-a-character and seeing Brittany Robertson in anything, if only briefly, is always a treat). I loved Dewey as Woodsboro’s sheriff, but his strange cast of bumbling and neurotic deputies seemed to miss their target a little, even if Adam Brody’s face is definitely a welcome sight.
On the plus side, the majority of the fresh blood making up the “high school” cast were surprisingly compelling and interesting. Hayden Panettiere’s Kirby stood up well to Rose McGowan’s Tatum from the original, and Emma Roberts’ doe-eyed character, Jill, was the brilliant, sick conglomeration of Sidney, Billy, and Stu: screaming victim and homicidal sociopath, a satire of our celebrity-obsessed culture. Jill’s boyfriend, Trevor, brooded adequately, clearly trying to hearken back to Skeet Ulrich’s Billy, though now as a real red herring and not the original’s two time fake out. Of course, this generation’s “Randys” left me a little wanting, one dying a bit too easily and the other being the lovesick accomplice that didn’t see the double-cross coming, but hey, nothing’s perfect.
Any minor faults in the movie are easily overlooked, however, what with the always excellent turns done by Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, and David Arquette in their iconic rolls for this franchise. Sidney, Gale, and Dewey have the sort of complicated history and intrapersonal relationships one might expect when they’ve survived not one, not two, but three (well, technically four) serial killers together, and Campbell, Cox, and Arquette pick up the threads of these relationships and shrug into the skin of these characters with admirable ease and an obvious appreciation for their inherent ridiculousness. Their chemistry doesn’t fail and it ties the entire movie together for a solid 3 out of 4 stars.
All in all, the movie did what it should do: made me want to re-watch the entire franchise and then turn around and watch the latest installment again. As a fan who was 13 when the first movie came out, I say A+, guys!
Now…who’s making that ‘N Sync reunion tour happen??