Wes Craven has made a name for himself as master of the horror genre starting off with Last House on the Left, working his way through Nightmare on Elm Street and pasting People Under the Stairs but soon after the slasher sub-genre began to die down. That was until he wrote and directed the movie the revitalized the slasher but also, funnily enough, parodied it as well. That movie was Scream and it started a phenomenon of mediocre yet original slasher flicks like Urban Legends, I Know What You Did Last Summer and Valentine and the idea of a self-aware movie. Soon after came Scream 2, which parodied the slasher sequel and following that was Scream 3 of which remains a mystery to me. I don’t think Scream 4 could have come at a better time because not only does it poke fun at Wes Craven (meaning all the remakes he had a hand in giving the okay to) but it pokes fun at movies like Saw, which rely on over-the-top gratuitous bloodshed or horror remake. Maybe it’s the fact that I was under the influence of 6 cups of coffee and 12 packets of sugar but I really enjoyed Scream 4 because it is what it’s parodying and I know a lot of people will be let down by it and I understand that it is far from a perfect movie but let me explain why I enjoyed this movie. Also, to it put it in a better perspective I didn’t think it was brilliantly written like the first one but I enjoyed it in the same vain as I did with the My Bloody Valentine remake.
Scream 4 is about Sidney Campbell returning to Woodsboro to try and live a peaceful life after writing a book on her experience with the Ghostface killer. Gale has since retired from TV journalism and settled down with Sheriff Dewey. However, upon her return a copycat killer, disguised as Ghotface, begins slashing his way through the new generation of teens at Woodsboro High. However, Sidney isn’t the only one who is affected by these heinous events but also her cousin and her Aunt who have lived with the idea that she is the “angel of death.” With a new killer in town, following modern day slasher rules, Sidney, Gale and Dewey must find the iller before he or she kills off the entire Campbell family. Scream 4 opens up perfectly because it sets the tone for how ridiculous the film will be and how absurd it can get. If we look at the general state of horror movies today, they incorporate over-the-top kills, hammy acting and a lot of really bad plot twists and I think Scream 4 was sort of how I, and probably others, felt about the Saw franchise. It also builds it’s plot on all the types of remakes that have been made and there is a rather funny scene where the killer asks Hayden Panettiere about remakes in she begins to name off every single one of them. It really put the whole remake craze into perspective.
I don’t’ want say who the killer is but I might give away a few spoilers in this paragraph but I’ll try to avoid doing so. See, the way I see it the killer represents the new generation of horror movies and horror fans trying to desperately to improve on the original or in some cases one-up the original. Since the killer is trying to reinvent the Woodsboro murders to have a different outcome, he or she sees Sidney as the ‘original’ victim and therefore she must be killed. If we look at this in terms of the Halloween remake, Rob Zombie wanted to reinvent or reimage Michael Meyers but in the process he ended up ruining what the original stood for in horror. There are several old-school allusions of old school horror trying to pair up with modern day horror and failing and I am making reference to Gale going “rogue” in her investigation and teaming up with the Woodsboro High film club. There is Sidney’s cousin trying to get along with her despite the fact that she is the primary target of the killer, Dewey being sexually tempted by a younger female deputy and of course the ending. They are all based on the idea of old meets young and I think it’s funny that none of these relationships work out as if it’s Craven’s commentary on how the Nightmare on Elm Street remake could never fair with its remake. Hell, it’s almost like Craven is mocking himself as Mr. Hollywood Horror.
I think Scream 4 has the right to be bad and what I mean by that is throughout the entire film there are ridiculous performances, one-liners here and there, out of place but still funny humor and exaggerated events. Why should it be exactly that? Because that’s what it’s parodying. Take the original Scream for an example; Sidney says, when the killer first calls her, that the females in horror movies are idiots because they run upstairs instead of running out the front door. So, what does she do when the killer attacks her? She runs up the front door. Not only does she challenge the cliché but also she ends up reinforcing it later on. The same thing goes for this movie; it challenges the ridiculousness of horror movies but ends up being ridiculous in the process. I think that’s what Scream’s niche is. I personally think it did a great job of doing this.
I do, however, want to make this clear that I don’t think Scream 4 is as good as Scream or Scream 2 nor do I think that it’s a perfect movie because it’s not. With that said, I would rank this one above 3 because I hated 3. Sure there are flaws in the movie and I think the biggest one that it suffered from was that the story seemed more focused on Gale trying to regain her fame back and Sidney’s cousin trying to cope with the killings. I think it should have focused on Sidney’s cousin and Sidney herself with Gale as a side story. The film touches on the notion that Dewey is being seduced by a younger police deputy but quickly abandons this story midway into the film. For a movie that states that the kills have to be more theatrical and over-the-top, they really weren’t. Sure the killer stabs the victims several times and even goes as far as to thrash them around the house but the 1st movie had Drew Barrymore hanging from a tree with her intestines spilled out. The only theatrical kill that was exaggerated was having a body thrown down a 5-story parking lot. Sure there is a very limited amount you could do with a knife but the bodies should have at least been strung up or something.
As I have said already, Wes Craven has made a name for himself as a master of horror but he has since become very studio oriented and made a lot of crap after Scream (with the exception of Red Eye). Though Scream 4 didn’t redeem him, it does show that he is aware of how horror fans are towards remakes and reboots. I think that Craven really tarnished himself with movies like Cursed or My Soul To Take and I think that Scream 4 will be his last entertaining movie but he still loves horror even if his movies don’t reflect that. I won’t go into the details because it’s probably one of the best scenes in the entire film as well as recent horror history but I will say this: he said what all us old school horror fans have been saying for a long time now, you just don’t fuck with the original.