Thursday, 21 April 2011

Scream 4

2011. Dir: Wes Craven. Starring: Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Emma Roberts and Hayden Panettiere. ●●●○○

Do you like Scary movies? Or perhaps a better question: do you like comedies that make you jump or horror films that you laugh at? If you're a fan of the former than you will probably find Scream 4 or Scre4m right up your street, if you fall in the second camp prepare to be disappointed. At no point in the (curiously overlong) 111 minute screentime does this feel like a horror, the tension simply doesn't get ratcheted up enough, however there are plenty of giggles to be had anticipating the next bloody corpse and trying to second guess the killer.

As with the previous entries in the Woodsboro franchise the self reflection and naval gazing it what gives this picture it's unique charm. At each step of the game one of the more savvy characters will pronounce what circumstances need to be fulfilled before Ghostface strikes again, followed by cut to party scene/lone female in car park/hapless policemen.

The plot, for what it's worth, sees Sidney Prescott, our heroine from the first trilogy as played by Neve Campbell, return to her home town to launch her book dedicated to moving on from horrific episodes in her past. Whilst there she bumps into old cronies Dewey and Gale (Arquette and Cox) who are now married (irony, eh?) and enjoying their lives in the sleepy town, and stays with here hitherto unmentioned Aunt Kate (a criminally wasted Mary McDonnell) and cousin Jill (Emma Roberts). Jill naturally finds herself being stalked by another serial killer who this time seems intent on making Sidney suffer by tormenting those around her.

The rest of the teenage cast is made up of known stars like Hayden Panettiere (believably sassy and the cast stand out) and Rory Culkin (all dopey eyed) and mainly serve as either a collection of doomed caricatures or potential suspects to be crossed off one by one.

As for the reveal, it's a nice touch, I certainly didn't second guess who the killer was (my preferred suspect turned out to be hopelessly innocent) although the speech where the real ghostface revealed their motivation was hopelessly inept and didn't really work with what had gone before, and as ever the athleticism of Ghostface in full stalker mode seems to belie what we know about the eventual killer, however these are minor gripes that belong firmly within the genre.

Many of the one-liners work well, especially in the final hospital based scenes where our heroic survivors are effectively commentating on the killer's modus operandi as it happens ("They always come up behind you", indeed). By the script as a whole, along with the overall shape of the editing, shows clear signs of too many cooks. Characterisation is talked about rather than actually taking place, and retrospectively the clues leading to the identity of the killer are too circumspect and obtuse, indeed the whole theme of self generated fame doesn't come into the story until the final reel.

I don't suppose this film will resurrect the Scream franchise, the box office take has not be adequate to do that, but it may be enough to keep the careers of the protagonists going for a few more years. And director Wes Craven should definitely leave the stalker sub-genre alone and try to make an outright comedy - that I'd pay to see.

I suppose I'd recommend this as a Wednesday night, two for one on tickets, date movie. It's OK, but it's really just a means to and end.

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