Scream 4 should have been called Scary Movie 5.
The rules have definitely changed in the fourth chapter of the popular franchise…It took Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell) 10 years to return to Woodsboro on the anniversary of the infamous massacre. When Sydney arrives to the local book store as part of her new tour, she is met by her past which seems to stop at nothing to haunt her. At her first book signing, Sheriff Dewey (David Arquette) arrives on the scene to alert her that he suspects some suspicious activity in the area. This begins a whole new chapter as Ghost Face is back and doing what he does best; slaughtering high schoolers after mysteriously calling them on the phone. How does this new generation compare to the original? Is it worthy of you checking out? Keep on reading below to find out.
In its fourth entry, Scream 4 opens just like the previous entries with that famous scene that many of us from my generation have grown to love. The opening scene, however, is not what you might expect as this is a new decade and what you are watching isn’t what you think. Like most modern day horror films, Scream 4 opens on the idea of poking fun of itself and a new generation obsessed with sequels and remakes. The opening scene in Scream 4 is no where near as memorable as the previous entries. The scene actually serves as a triple play, but doesn’t conquer up any fear or suspense, which is something that the previous films have always done. Instead it generates laughs and I begin to wonder what exactly is in store as the film continues.
When leaving the theater, I heard a lot of the mixed reactions. Some of the comments I heard included “This was the worst film that I have seen in years,” “I wish that ended sooner,” and “it was pretty cool.” It was clear after walking out of the theater that this film was a mixed bag. I remember walking out of the first Scream and listening to how impressed everyone was. This film was a mixed bag for everyone who seemed to watch it. Most people either hated it or loved it. I fall into the category of I don’t get it and why did they do it? It clearly had its moments, but served more as a comedy than a horror. The poorly developed characters, the bad acting, and the use of humor took away from the heart of this being a successful Scream film. This may be a new decade, but it doesn’t mean that the original rules that made the first three films work, needed to change.
The main problem with Scream 4 is that it never takes itself seriously. The film serves more as a parody to its previous chapters than an actual sequel. It would be safe to say that Scream 4 is more like Scary Movie 5 than a Scream film. This whole feeling of parody for me started from the beginning with the cameos in the opening. The scene is actually funny, rather than scary. I just couldn’t take this film seriously as even the actors seemed to have given up on the material. Everyone kept talking about being apart of a film within the film and that made it almost impossible to take the performances seriously. It felt like everyone in the cast knew they were apart of the joke and therefore the idea of this being a serious sequel didn’t work, therefore leaving me feeling disappointed.
The other issue I have is that the acting was piss poor in this film. The characters all seemed uncaring and uninvolved. The reactions that they gave off when being attacked or when a person was killed were pathetic to put it nicely. It was like the characters looked at the murder victim and said to themselves “eh, that’s just a fake dead body, who cares.” The emotions that the characters gave off were so forced and phony that they made me feel as if I was watching a comedy rather than a sincere attempt at horror.
Neve Campbell returns as Sydney and gives a dead in the water performance. The character of Sydney Prescott should have been left out of this film entirely as it was clear that Campbell, obviously checked out of this franchise 10 years ago. Along with Campbell, Courtney Cox and David Arquette seemed equally unaware of what was going on. The chemistry that these characters had in the previous three films seemed to have gone missing in this one. All these characters felt like they were fillers for the film and were just written into the script as a half-assed move by writer Kevin Williamson. The one thing I did feel, however, was how uncomfortable it was watching Courtney Cox and David Arquette interact with one another on screen. Since we live in a media world, we know that the couple split up in real life and there on-screen marriage seemed equally hard to be apart of.
As for the newcomers to the franchise, I do have to give some credit to some of them. Hayden Panettiere who plays Kirby in the film, was probably the most likable member of the cast and actually served up a decent performance. She was the rebellious friend, who was smart to boot. I liked her strong independent attitude mixed with her movie lover personality. It was a good character for her to play and she hit the nail on the head while playing the role. The other person I wanted to give some credit to is Emma Roberts, who really took charge playing the lead role. Her character was much more complex than one would think and I really like how she played the role. The unfortunate thing for Roberts, however, were the weak performances that surrounded her besides Panettiere.
The bad newcomers included Rory Culkin, Nico Tortorella, Erik Knudsen, Marley Shelton, Anthony Anderson, and Alison Brie just to name a few. I read a lot of other reviews and noticed a lot of people pointed out Alison Brie’s role in the film. While I love her on Community, she was horrific in this film. I don’t care that she got to curse in the film because that doesn’t make it a good performance. She played a bobble head character and one that was poorly executed at best. Anthony Anderson as a cop? Really? Who did the casting? Terrible. Speaking of terrible, lets talk about Marley Shelton who comes off as a bimbo newbie cop with hots for Dewey. I can’t even begin to tell you how bad the performances were. They were on par with a porn and I wish I was joking.
While the film tries to be clever playing as film within a film it doesn’t quite work. The film also tries to reinvent what the previous films have achieved it and doesn’t work either, at least not for me. There has been a lot of talk about this film not connecting with the original followers and I would have to agree with that. Its harder to relate to this film because it takes place in recent time where cell phones are a dime a dozen. It’s nowhere near as cool of an idea that it was 10 years ago when Ghost Face called his victims on the home phone. The idea of cell phones in this film doesn’t quite have the inspiration that the original films had. It seems too convenient and is used almost as a way to mock the previous films.
In conclusion, I really was severely disappointed with Scream 4. I have been a loyal fan of the franchise, but had a bad feeling about this fourth entry for a while now. It all began when there were so many issues with the casting process. For those who don’t remember, several people originally slated to star in the film dropped out just a few days before it began its initial shooting. There were also some talk about how weak the script was. It saddens me to say it, but those rumors were true. The casting was poor and the script was sub-par compared to the other chapters. The ending was even weak even though it had a solid motive. The way the film played the cards it was dealt was what made it feel cheap and forced. In terms of recent horror remakes and sequels, this film is decent, but for those of us who grew up on the originals this is a step backwards, a really big step. Its a shame because after this, I don’t think I will be seeing Scream 5 until it hits DVD, because I really felt the film was cheapened to relate to the younger demographic instead of its core fans.
MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Scream 4 is a 5 out of 10. A huge disappointment for those of us who are fans of the original Scream franchise.