A Review of “Scream 4” On Its Opening Weekend

After the hellish week that I had, a movie starring Ghostface was just the perfect way to end the week. Besides that, I had been anxiously waiting for the fourth “Scream” movie to be released so I was not about to miss its opening night. I purchased my tickets days ago, arrived at the theater 45 minutes early to get the best seat, bought my jumbo popcorn/soda combo and settled in for a fun fright ride. I was entertained, and, if that is all you are looking for, then you will probably enjoy ” Scre4m ” as I did. If you want to be scared senseless, this is not the horror movie for you.

Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson team up again to bring back Ghostface and recapture the successful formula of the genre-altering original from 1996. The best part of the opening scenes can only be described as a movie, in a movie in a movie and use Anna Paquin and Kristen Bell perfectly. You are revved up for a great ride; however, the middle of the movie drags at times but just when you feel as if you made a mistake paying big bucks for this movie – – BANG. Think of it as the best roller coaster ride turning into a ride from Disney World and then back into the best roller coaster. (Reviewer’s note: The jumbo soda is not a good idea unless you can hold it or run to the bathroom during the middle of the movie. At approximately 111 minutes, the ending is too good to miss so do the bathroom run in the middle of the movie.) ” movies is that the characters know they are in a ‘horror movie’ scenario and poke fun of the entire horror movie genre. “Scream 4” delivers some of the same witty dialogue and in-your-face mockery that Williamson scripted into the first movie but it does not deliver as much on the fright scale as the original. The

The plot of “Scream 4” goes something like this… Sidney Prescott (played again by Neve Campbell) has written a self-help memoir, Out of Darkness, which details how she survived her ordeal with Ghostface, how she has become stronger, reinvented herself, etc. etc., more Oprah stuff, etc. The last stop on her book tour is her home town of Woodsboro. As fate would have it, Sidney arrives just as another set of gruesome murders take place. The bodies pile up as we reach the climatic teenage party where, according to horror movie rules, the killer should make his final and most bloody showdown with his victims. If you must go to the bathroom do it now because fans the rules have changed and the party is not the ending of the movie. The ending is fantastic and the twists are definitely worth the extra minutes Craven should have cut from the middle of the movie.

Returning for the fourth installment, Courteney Cox (now with the Arquette at the end of her name) and David Arquette reprise their roles as Gale Weathers and Deputy, now Sheriff, Dewey. They are married but still struggling with the same inner-demons and personality flaws as they did 15 years ago. Gale’s series of books have been used as the basis of the ‘Stab’ movies but she has writers block and longs for more than being Mrs. Sherriff Dewey in Woodsboro (thank goodness Ghostface has murdered some more teens – she can write another book). Dewey is even more like Barney Fife and Gomer Pyle, if that is possible, as he is never where he needs to be and is clueless about how to handle the killings. His deputies do have some great one-liners throughout the movie and the female deputy has a severe crush on Dewey that creates a few laughs. Since Ghostface must have more than three victims to create a horror movie, Sidney’s cousin Jill (Emma Roberts), her friends Olivia (Marielle Jaffe) and Kirby (Hayden Panettiere) and other horror-appropriate young characters are added to the cast for Ghostface to stalk, terrorize and slaughter.

As the younger generation points out, this is a “new decade, new rules.” The rules have changed and so has Ghostface as he now seems almost superhuman and able to be in more than one place at a time (I do believe that was a rule from “Scream 3” but we will overlook that one Wes and Kevin). As the bodies pile up, we see that teenagers still have not learned anything from their vast knowledge of horror movies even though they specifically say what not to do and then proceed to do exactly that – – they stay at home alone (where are their parents by the way), they drink, have sex, open doors and walk outside when a killer dares them too all while never bothering to pick up a weapon. Even Sidney, after three turns with Ghostface picks up a knife instead of having a gun for protection.

What is confusing at times is that Wes Craven throws everyone under the bus as a suspect in “Scre4m” so be prepared to think you know the killer one second and see that person sliced and de-bowelled the next minute. “Scre4m” continues to make fun of itself with inside jokes and self-deprecating references to other horror movies and stars – – the teens are watching “Shaun of the Dead”, a zombie satire, that could make audiences think Craven is using the fourth, in part, as a satire of the other “Scream” movies. Some of the best laughs and most surprising moments are during the clever twist at the end with the movie actually pokes fun at the original “Scream.”

I did jump more from the parts of the movie that were meant to startle (people running into things or accidently startling another character) than I did from seeing Ghostface. Maybe after three movies, the mask is just not as frightening or moviegoers are desensitized to violence; however, the movie was just what I expected and therefore was entertaining. During one of the opening scenes as the teens discuss the ‘Stab’ movies, the dialogue includes one teen stating, “You’re over-thinking it!” and the other replying, “Am I? Or is the person writing this UNDER-thinking it?” That is the perfect way to go into the theater to watch “Scream 4 – – do not over think it because the writers did not under think the script. It is written to make you laugh, make you jump and say “eeewwww” when you see someone’s insides on the screen. It is not intended to be a cinematic masterpiece or the scariest movie you have ever seen. “Scre4m” is meant to make you laugh and jump a few times and it does just that.