SCRE4M (Scream 4)
Scre4m was ironically called “the fourth part in the trilogy” upon its release. Screenwriter Kevin Williamson and director Wes Craven had strongly denied that there would ever be a fourth entry, but ten years after the third and final part, both men seemed to be in need of a hit, and therefore went back on their promise when they were asked by producer Bob Weinstein. The new movie also brings back three stars of the trilogy, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette, who hardly seem to have a life outside the franchise. Time hasn’t been very nice to the trio. Arquette, so effective in the trilogy as the clumsy sheriff, sleepwalks through the movie and Cox seems more concerned with hiding her age and wrinkles than her performance. Campbell fares a little better, but she isn’t served by a convoluted script, overgrown with cross-references and auto-references. “How meta can you get?” says one of the characters somewhere halfway the movie.
The trilogy was so effective because the movies were – in spite of those postmodern jokes and injokes - perfect examples of full-blooded horror movies, gritty and exciting. Until the final half hour or so, Scre4m feels artificial, devoid of any real suspense.
Until the final half hour (or so).
Campbell has become a successful writer by exploiting her experiences as the indestructible heroin who survived all murder attempts by Ghostface. She returns to Woodsboro to promote her new book, attracting the attention of a new generation of movie nerds and sexy birds who have come to idolize her. It’s never a good idea to return to a place were people were murdered, especially not in a sequel. Before Campbell has even unpacked her things, the first teenagers are stabbed to death. The blood flows like wine and some of those meta comments work (there’s a hilarious scene with two policemen discussing the chances to survive the scene they’re in), but it all remains quite dull until this last half hour (or so).
But then …
The identity of the killer (or killers, fans know there usually are two) is revealed some 25 minutes before the end of the movie. Usually it’s not a good idea in movies like this to put your cards on the table at an early stage, but in this case it’s a brilliant move. All of a sudden all plot elements (and meta comments) click. Campbell’s return to Woodsboro as a successful author, and her status as the indestructible heroin, turn out to be essential to the plot, and give it that little bit of extra it needed to spark. And what’s more: All of a sudden Craven’s directional hand, which had failed so far, strikes the right chords: we get a swift succession of stabbings, self-inflicted wounds and victims fighting back that is genuinely exciting, probably the best half hour of the franchise so far. So if you decide to give a try, whatever you do, keep watching.
The new generations of movie nerds and sexy birds are played by a group of attractive young stars. Emma Roberts (daughter of Eric, niece of Julia) is sensational. There are also nice cameos by Marley Shelton (as a pig-headed deputy) and Anthony Anderson and Adam Brody (as the officers discussing their fate). In 1996 the first Scream ushered in a new wave of horror movies. This fourth won’t probably do the same, but its success might well announce a new trilogy (of more than three parts).
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