You know the sound of that dreaded ringing phone; you're ready for it, but no matter how often you remind yourself that it's coming, there's just something about the start of the Scream movies that gets me every time. From that very moment, Scream 4 throws you right back into the beloved franchise with a fresh, updated take on a very familiar story. The original Scream opening scene with Drew Barrymore put the movie on the map, and once again the first sequence is everything you want — tongue-in-cheek, funny, and of course, very bloody. For that reason and others, this is perhaps the most similar to the first of all the sequels. Or, to quote the film, it really is more of a "scre-boot" than a "shreik-uel."
Director Wes Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson are both at the top of their games with Scream 4. For all the criticism Scream 3 received, Craven stays loyal to the essence of Scream in this one. Ghostface and his very shiny knife are chill-inducing, red-herring abound, and it's a horror movie about loving horror movies. Williamson somehow retains the ability to write snappy, believable teen dialogue, save one final monologue about fame that goes a bit over the top.
Technology plays a central role in the story, with iPhones, apps, and web cams making frequent appearances, which is certainly a sign of the times. Scream 4 will serve as a snapshot of 2011 in the same way Scream is so indicative of the late '90s, belly shirts and all. Still, I'm not sure there are any high schoolers out there live streaming their whole life from a headset.
To read my biggest gripe about the movie, how the veteran cast members do, and the bottom line of who will love this just
Woodsboro hasn't changed much in the past 10 years, and neither have Gale Weathers-Riley (Courteney Cox), Dewey Riley (David Arquette), and Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell). The inclusion of the veterans is crucial to making Scream 4 work, and they remain the heart of the series. Gale and Dewey have stuck around town, and he's now the Sheriff while she's no longer working as a reporter and is instead plagued with a case of writer's block. Sidney is back in town on her book tour, with her a final stop being in her hometown on the anniversary of the Woodsboro Massacre. Her memoir is about coming out of the darkness, and her character has gotten stronger after all she's been through. Instead of running away from Ghostface, Sidney is now on the offensive to protect her cousin, Jill (Emma Roberts), and family. Campbell shines as a more daring adult Sid who is ready to fight until the end.
The death count is far higher than any of the previous Screams, so don't get too attached to the hot, young star-studded cast. For that reason, the downfall of this film is that it has less character and relationship development. At times it feels like the script moves from kill to kill without explaining any of the motives or backstory. There's little time to be worried about what door Ghostface is lurking behind, since the killer is too busy slashing everyone in sight. For instance, the movie alludes to Jill's boyfriend Trevor (Nico Tortorella) cheating on her, but they don't explain or expand on the story from there. The film will also have the viewers picking suspects, though that part of the story is underutilized as well. None of the characters are pointing fingers or making accusations, which is usually part of the fun.
Hayden Panettiere and Alison Brie are highlights of the new Scream-ers, as Jill's badass friend and Sydney's sassy publicist respectively, and the trio of guys, Tortorella, Erik Knudsen, and Rory Culkin each have their moments. Cox and Campbell, who both look like they haven't aged a day, are fantastic reprising their classic roles, and Arquette is lovable as ever as Dewey. Bottom line: Scream 4 won't have you jumping out of your seat, but it's smart, witty, unpredictable, and a blast to watch.
Source: The Weinstein Company