By Gary “Spirit Mug” Murray
Starring Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, David Arquette and Emma Roberts
Written by Kevin Williamson
Directed by Wes Craven
Running time 111 min
MPAA Rating R
Selig Film Rating Matinee
I do not remember seeing any films in the Scream franchise except for the first one. I know I did, but they have just faded away in the backwash of films viewed then forgotten. So, I came upon the newest installment of the franchise with one degree of freshness and two degrees of trepidation. It seems that the more a horror franchise goes along, the worse the films become. Anyone remember Jason in outer space? The newest, Scream 4 has Wes Craven at the director’s helm which is a good sign.
The film opens with a series of twists and turns that reference not only the Scream films but the series of Stab films that the fictitious movie company has made of the tragic events. We jump from event to event, some real and some on the screen, all tied into he Ghostface killer. It is a cleaver bit to open the flick.
Then we get to the plot. Scream 4 takes place a few years after the events of the Scream Trilogy. Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is the author of a self help book and is on an author’s tour of Woodsboro, the town where the events of the first film happened. Still in the town are our muck racking journalist Gale (Courtney Cox) and her husband sheriff Dewey (David Arquette). Where she wants the limelight, he just wants the simple life of a rural town.
We also have a gaggle of kids who see the murderous events more as a series of bad slasher flicks in the Stab series. The lead kid is Jill (Emma Roberts) and she’s related to Sidney. A series of murders begin in the little town, a series that parallels the murders in the first Scream film. Gale sees this as a way to get back on TV news. Dewey sees it as another problem for his town and Sidney just wants to save her family. The elements build as everyone tries to discover the identity of Ghostface before the teen body count reaches the sky. (The powers that be at the studios do not want any plot points given out, so that is all I’m saying about the story of Scream 4)
Neve Campbell hasn’t aged a day since her last Scream outing. She still is a stunning woman who can kick some major bad guy backside. As the victim with a hardened exterior, Neve gives her character a large slice of confidence in a wickedly written role.
Of the other two older leads, Courtney Cox holds up better than David Arquette. While both seem to be having a fun time playing these roles again, they just don’t commit to the characters. It feels more like they are cashing a paycheck than fleshing out a character.
Of the new cast, Emma Roberts shines above her younger cast members. She is the girl next door, with a winning smile. As she becomes the target of Ghostface, she falls further down a macabre hole.
Wes Craven is a master of these kinds of movies and works his magic with Scream 4. He mixes gallows humor and shocks in equal measure. As the film bobs and weaves toward the surprise ending, Craven never lets on the true identity of the Ghostface killer. It is a testament to the genre and proof that he knows how to make these kinds of flicks.
Looking over the entire work, Scream 4 is a bloody good time, a true drive-in flick that is one heck of a fun little ride. While not any kind of award winning bit of cinema, it is something that should thrill and shock the intended audience.