Crash Analysis: SCREAM 4 (2011)

So corny it seemed the Wayan’s brothers were responsible

Sidney Prescott comes home and Ghostface goes on the rampage…

With some wonderful reviews from SCREAM (1996) fans, it took little thought to dive into this fourth segment. After all, Kevin Williamson, the screenwriter behind the original feature had penned the script, and after a ten-year hiatus from the franchise, Wes Craven surely would have brought something new to the experience.

Wrong.

Williamson’s story was more comedy than horror – and cheap, stupid comedy at that. Quite often, it appeared as if the material was straight out of SCARY MOVIE (2000). Granted, Dewey Reily (David Arquette) was always dumb, but new idiocy is reached with dumber deputy sidekick, Judy Hicks (Marley Shelton) who can’t wait to draw her weapon on anything at any time. Furthermore, how big is Woodsboro anyway? Seems Sheriff Reily and his crew had to travel dozens of miles to get to point B when they were needed most – and they always arrived after the fact, of course. Timing, as in most ridiculous horrors, was way off the mark and far removed from reality.

And even though Williamson does his best to poke fun at sequels and pathetic remakes, his sequel is far from worthwhile since the comedy, horror and playful spoofing is childish and banal. Then again, it seems the screenwriter may have been lost in his own effort to include story twists since he had missed at least two deadlines before filming. One wonders if he had just said, “Fuck it” and turned in his latest draft without making certain it had been squared away.

Though this may be sacrilege, I never felt Craven had lived up to the moniker of “master of horror”, and found SCREAM to be his best venture. Yes, even more so than THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977) and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984). As a director, he never seemed to go that extra mile to drum up the suspense and keep the audience guessing. Once again, he doesn’t bring us to the brink. In fact, the story is so hackneyed, further plagued by camera angles long established and tiresome, sleep ensued at one point.

As for the tired tale we’re used to seeing from the franchise, audience members probably spent more time guessing who comprised Ghostface this time around, though in the end, it wasn’t a shock and the relevance didn’t really matter.

The producers (The Weinstein Company), Williamson and Craven, served up the same old scene once again to try and delight fans on a base and mundane level instead of serving up a new and improved dish (something Peni and the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY enterprise tries to do). Therefore, the audience falls victim to the musings of the initial players who rail against sequels and remakes, and the aforementioned all become victims of their own joke. However, the real victims, once again, are audience members that tolerate below average entertainment from the film’s braintrust that have become their own whores to sell and sell again in order to cash in.

If there ever is a SCREAM 5, and I doubt there will be, I only hope the years of experience Williamson and Craven possess will lead to something as new and as riveting as their first installment.

1 out of 5 stars

2 Replies to “Crash Analysis: SCREAM 4 (2011)”

  1. I went into “Scream 4” expecting to hate it just as much, and for some of the same reasons: the ominous long gap between sequels; the poor trailer; and Craven’s “stab” at a mainstream success after the jaw-droppingly bad “My Soul to Take.” Moreover, I was wondering what possible angle this sequel could take to bring the series back to relevant pop-culture status (a satire on torture porn, perhaps?). While I don’t think “4” will have much longevity in the timeline of horror-cinema history, I found the satirical take on Hollywood’s “remake mentality” to be interesting, especially in the way Craven and Williamson tease at the edges of turning this film into a pseudo-remake of the 1996 original while incorporating the current technology of the YouTube Generation. I also preferred that less attention was paid to the original cast (Neve Campbell has always been a dull leading lady); with the exception of David Arquette (who I feel essayed a stronger, more empathetic character here than in any of the prior films), I found the fresh-faced youth cast (with a few exceptions) to be far more engaging. Basically, I feel the satire worked, the film delivered on the suspense and shocks, and the killer’s identity kept me guessing.

  2. I’m certainly glad you enjoyed it, but I didn’t feel any suspense or shocks since everything that was about to happen was so clearly telegraphed. As for Dewey being more empathetic, I agree, however, he’s still a boob, which ticks me off. I certainly don’t mind comic relief if it’s “human” and “reality based”, but presenting such idiots undermines the entire tale for me.

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