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…?

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LISTED Film Previews – October ’10

Finally, we come back round to the Halloween films of the year – my favourite time of year for film releases! This is mainly because you’ll always see different production companies competing against each other for the Halloween High-Hitter of the Year. Obviously, in recent years, its been all of the Saw movies, because this has now been built up into a franchise in the same way that Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday The 13th was – to the extent that little kids were dressing up in clawed gloves and burnt faces at such a young age that they couldn’t possibly be old enough to thave seen the films. And that is what Saw is managing to do now – become a franchise and make an icon of itself. Don’t get me wrong, this is great for their business, but I think this year there’s going to be some stiff competition from a film thats generating hype all of its own….

Also, just as a note, more and more people have been leaving great comments on some posts, bringing up some very valid points and its a shame if these dont get read. So next time you’re reading one of these, check for comments about points you might have wanted to hear more of, because they might just be there. Now, time for the film feast for you greedy lot out there!

THE SOCIAL NETWORK (12A) (Dir. David Fincher)

Ever wondered how much trouble goes into creating a social networking site? The Social Network follows the fictional story of Mark Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg) and how he and a group of his friends came together to create the networking and photo sharing site Facebook. However, things start to turn ugly when arguements with his friend and co-founder of the site Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) compromise the website, his funds and everything he owns. The trailers for this film look pretty great, and it looks like there’s a surprisingly high amount of drama in The Social Network – which will provide a very welcome retreat from the Hollywood remakes! Definitely worth watching if you use Facebook yourself (so, everyone then?), or even if it’s to see Andrew Garfield’s performance before the Spider-Man reboot starts production. Released October 15th.

RED (12A) (Dir. Robert Schwentke)

Based on the DC comics series, Bruce Willis plays a retired black-ops agent whose peaceful situation is compromised when a new, high-tech assassin threatens his life. As a last resort, Frank Moses (Willis) reassembles his former black-ops team to break into the CIA. Considering that Bruce Willis did this after Cop Out (which was of a similar style to Red and pretty successful for Willis too) and that this also stars Morgan Freeman, a slightly barmy John Malkovich and a sniper-rifle toting Helen Mirren, you can pretty much bet that the mix of smart comedy and high-octane action is going to work pretty well for bringing in the audiences. It’s definitely worked for Willis so far, at least! Released October 22nd.

SAW VII 3D (18) (Dir. Kevin Greutert)

Although the Saw franchise has probably gone on way longer than it rightly should have by now, the latest instalment in the series is not only in 3D but also sees the return of original Saw victim Carey Elwes as Lawrence Gordon. Whilst a deadly battle rages between those who want to take up the mantle Jigsaw left behind, a group of his survivors gather and seek support from fellow survivor and self-help guru Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flannery). But Dagen’s own motives are so dark and destructive they may start an entirely new wave of terror. Advertised as the last Saw (even though VIII has been green lit), it’s likely that the 3D effects will go down well amongst the loyal fan base, but personally this is not what my money is on for the Halloween success of the year… Released October 29th.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 (18) (Dir. Tod Williams)

The sequel to the biggest low-budget phenomenon of recent years is finally seeing the light of day. Or not, as the early trailers suggest… Not much is known about the storyline, but what the trailers have revealed is a lot more frightening goings-on in a new house with cameras in every room, with a dog and a baby taking up residence in the house as well. With the director of the original on board as a producer, Paranormal Activity 2 is set to scare the living snot out of audiences all over the world! Released October 29th.

LISTED Film Previews – January/February ’09

So, I’ve finally been given the Go-ahead by Listed Magazine to post up a selection of the articles and Film Previews that have been printed and put on their website! Here are the previews for films that have been released in January and February of this year:

BOLT: Canine star of Underdog-style superhero TV series, Bolt believes he really doeshave superpowers, and that everything going on is real. So when the storyline for the TV show sees his cohort get kidnapped, he goes on a crusade to get her back, not realising its all make-believe! Hilarious? Coming from Disney/Pixar Studios and boasting a cast including John Travolta and teeny pop-sensation Miley Cyrus in its ranks, you really should hope so! Any people needing to satisfy their “inner child” would do well to catch this, but for those too “mature”, this may be too Shrek-like for you!

SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE: Danny “28 Days Later” Boyle brings us the story of orphan Jamal Malik, who grew up in the slums of Mumbai, only to appear on the Hindi version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” at the age of 18, not to win the prize money but instead to prove his love for his friend and fan of the show Latika. When he’s arrested during a break on suspicion of cheating for knowing so much, he retells the story of his life, showing that each chapter taught him the answer to the shows “impossible” quizzes.

FROST/NIXON: Director Ron Howard brings us this political insight into the post-Watergate interviews held between British talk-show host David Frost and former president Richard Nixon. This looks to have very eye-opening retellings of the events, and those studying or have interests in politics (or even the US elections!) should add this to their “must-see” list!

THE SECRET OF MOONACRE:With a fairly confusing and frankly uninteresting plotline that sees Dakota Blue Richards (The Golden Compass) starring as the main role (without an audition!) of a luxurious London-based girl whose father dies. This means she has to move to a manor house with an uncle she never knew she had, only to discover she is the last Moon Princess who has to stop a feud with another, more sinister family before the 5000thmoon rises and Moonacre gets lost to the sea forever. Needless to say, expect plot-holes!

FRIDAY THE 13TH: Horror film remakes are a very touchy subject sometimes, and horror films in general aren’t for everyone. Not me though! Remaking what was arguably one of THE greatest horror films ever is the director of the 2003 remake of Texas Chainsaw MassacreMarcus Nispel (also, a fine remake!). Early trailers for this film see it staying very true to the original, and “Jason” Vorhees being a more brutal predator of a killer than ever! My advice? Buy LARGE popcorns – they’re easier to hide behind! Fans of horrors and the originals unite – and hold on tight to the edge of that seat!

As published in Listed Magazine Issue 15 – www.listedmagazine.com