Scream 4 (May Contain Spoilers)

With all the Hollywood Horror franchise re-boots happening over the last few years (see Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th for a better understanding), it’s gradually becoming apparent that some horror makers are starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel for fresh ideas. Now, at this point, I could quite easily go on an essay-long rant about how horror films are constantly having to be re-invented in order to one-up themselves, meaning what was once considered scary is now laughable, and how audiences now rely on cheap visual horror and gore than the psychological horror of the 80’s and 90’s. Fortunately, I can save that for another time since Scream 4 goes most of the way towards pointing the finger at the horror film industry in an accusing way for me!

When Scream first came out, it had such an interesting mix of slasher-horror and cynical outside observations that it immediately became a success among horror freaks for its ability to mock the industry whilst also re-defining it at the same time. And now, 15 years after the first in the series, Wes Craven has made Scream 4 (or Scre4m, depending on where you see it) to poke some fun at a whole new generation of horror films. Ten years after the events in Woodsboro, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) has brought herself back together after writing her story and publishing it as a book. But on returning to her hometown on her book tour and reuniting with fellow survivors Sherrif Dewey Riley (David Arquette) and Gale Weathers-Riley (Courtney Cox), a new Ghostface arrives to torment Sidney and all those around her. And a new Ghostface means all new rules in this game of horror – which means anyone could be a victim, and anyone could be the killer…

The way this story develops is much the same way as the first Scream, as the producers have gone back and taken a long look at what made the first one so good and updating it for the newer generation. But this in itself is where the genius comes in to Scream 4, as there are conversations about the horror re-makes throughout the film and, more accurately, about how bad they are. It’s actually said by the character Charlie that everything has been done in a certain way that “the unexpected is the new cliché”. There’s also a lot less character development among the characters, but that’s down to the fact that a lot of the surviving characters have already developed as much as they can and Scream 4 is all about focusing on the new generation and the younger cast of victims, including Hayden Panettiere (whose character surely only survives for so long due to her knowledge of horror films), Rory Culkin and Emma Roberts as Sidney’s cousin Jill Roberts (or “the new, young Sidney”).

The great thing about Scream 4 is that, even though you sort of don’t want them to, any of the surviving cast could potentially be offed in this instalment, and they each have their encounters with Ghostface, harking back to the question of just what exactly IS “unexpected” in slasher films nowadays. For all its pointing towards who the killer could be, Scream 4  does still keep you guessing until the end reveal.

Scream 4 ups everything – from the blood and gore killings, to the satirical cynicism of the Hollywood horror industry such as the opening scene with the various piss-taking Stab film openings, cramming as many famous names into the first five minutes only to be killed off in faux opening scenes, to the way the killer has to “re-invent” itself in order to stay relevant for the Online generation. Essentially, Scream 4 has everything in it that made the original so much fun to watch, with all the hilarious satire that made the original relevant updated for an evolving film industry. Scream 4 gets 8 out of 10, but only loses points because I wanted to see more closure after the end resolve. But could that only mean more Scream films on the horizon…?



  1. If the aim is to re-define the rules for the new generation, they fail completely, as this feels just like a cash-in exercise and an excuse to revive something by re-hashing and regurgitating everything that we have already seen.
    Behind all the talk about going against the clichés and trying to ridicule the various the character-less horror of the last few years, there is actually very little new. There a sense of Déjà-vu throughout and (aside from its far fetched ending) it is all rather predictable in its non-predictability.
    Admitting a theft (or a reference) may ease the conscience, but it certainly doesn’t make it OK, nor it makes it a good film…. Also, it might make it funny, but certainly not scary!!
    I LOVED the first Scream, but this is just tired… Still enjoyable, but they should really stop before it becomes the parody of itself…

    • I don’t think the aim was to “re-define the rules” in this Scream, I think the aim was more to poke fun at how there are so many Hollywood re-makes trying to “re-invent” classic films that Scream 4 is taking a look at it from an outside perspective and cynically reflecting it. I think its “predectable in its non-predictability” is part of that, because thats the same of all the Hollywood Horror remakes. For God’s sake, Nightmare on Elm Street was basically a frame-for-frame re-hashing with better film quality and a new cast. There was hardly anything that was actually DIFFERENT about it, so does that make it unpredictable? No, it makes it ENTIRELY predictable for anyone whos seen ANY Nightmare on Elm Street films before. The Scream films weren’t ever really MEANT to be scary, they were always meant to be a bit of a parody (look up the fact that originally it was going to be called “Scary Movie” before being changed to “Scream”), but because Wes Craven is a horror film director first and a complete cynic second, it ended up having some scary moments in it. So in a way, ALL the Scream films ARE parodies of themselves, so making more would probably just be rubbing the joke in peoples faces, yes, but it would be interesting to see where they took it.

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