Directed by: Wes Craven
Distributed by: Dimension Films
Written by Nick McCann
The Scream trilogy made a huge mark. You had the classic original that blew the doors off the horror genre and two sequels that proved worthwhile despite inevitable inferiority. For a generation, it’s the end all be all of horror. The horror genre is always changing and evolving, and 2011 marked the time for the series to return. And like a good band coming back for a reunion tour, this iteration proved to have fire in its blood still.
Back in Woodsboro more than a decade later with Ghostface on yet another murder spree. From the get-go, movie number 4 is well aware of its legacy and is appropriately back on its meta business. With Kevin Williamson returning as screenwriter and Wes Craven directing one last time, they continue to show progression in concepts and sensibilities. Whether calling out the remake epidemic, bashing torture porn movies, or bringing up how the internet can make anyone both famous and in danger, the story finds plenty to unpack. All the while delivering another lean, tense, and violent mystery that constantly has you guessing until the end.
Our starring trio return yet again and prove age is just a number. Neve Campbell, David Arquette, and Courtney Cox each continue to charm. It really feels like checking in on old friends at this point. They have moxie and don’t slouch next to a new generation of characters. Said generation has some standouts, be it Emma Roberts in now traditional final girl form or Hayden Panettiere being a lively stand-in for the growing prominence of female horror super fans. Other players are in top form as well, including a few fun cameos and bit players.
After “Scream 3” toned down on the actual bloodshed, it’s nice to see “Scream 4” bring it all back in darkly savage glory. Makeup effects are spot on and the kill scenes have a ton of variety. Some parts even go out of their way to highlight the torture aspect that had become associated with the era’s horror output. It works in all the best ways and the cinematography retains a sharp look, despite a strange brightly overexposed style in places. Marco Beltrami is back creating the film’s score, which retains the musical identity of the series with appropriate character themes and other chilling moments.
At the time, “Scream 4” felt comforting getting to be back with these characters and sucked into another mystery after a decade apart. The film has held up nicely and clearly wasn’t simply out to make a quick buck. It took the opportunity to catch up with the changed horror landscape and call it out on its crap. In turn, crafting another great thrill ride that isn’t bogged down too steeply by its shortcomings. The characters are solid, the kills are bloody and the humor is on point. If things were to stop here, I would’ve complained. But luckily things just keep going!
“Scream 4” Trailer