Review: Scream 4

2011/04/13 04:01:56 +00:00 | Jonathan James

The Scream series finally returns after more than 10 years between sequels. With all of the anticipation, does Scream 4 live up to the hype? Is Scream 4 worthy of the Scream name? How does the new young cast fit in with the veterans? Continue reading to find out…

Ghostface returns in great form in the latest installment of the Scream series. With such a long gap between sequels and with a lack of new hit films from director Wes Craven, fans had every right to be skeptical. Scream 4, however, manages to break the multiple sequel curse that plagues so many other horror franchises and delivers a film that fits in very well with the past entries and genuinely keeps you guessing and interested.

Scream 4 takes place 10 years after the events of the third film and finds Sidney back in Woodsboro for the last stop of her self-help book tour. Thankfully for the audience, Ghostface plans to welcome back Sidney in style. The film focuses on Ghostface terrorizing Sidney, Gale, and Dewey, along with Sidney’s cousin Jill and her group of friends who are mostly horror fanatics obsessed with the fictional Stab film series.

There was some worry that this film would be a reboot, mainly focusing on the new cast over the cast from the previous films. Scream 4, however, is a direct sequel and you won’t appreciate this film as much if you haven’t seen the first three movies. On top of referencing other horror films, there are many references to past quotes or events in the Scream series that will be lost to someone only watching Scream 4.

I am not going to write about any specific spoilers, because it will ruin the film, but I will give my general impressions of the intro and various acts of the film. If you’d rather know absolutely nothing before going to see this movie, you should not continue reading (or read any Scream 4 review for that matter).

The world is a very different place from the world Sydney, Gale, and Dewey lived in during Scream 3, and Scream 4 not only references that, but puts it at the forefront. We live in an age of texting, Twitter, friend lists, and smart phones with video recording. Scream 4 makes a point to show the returning cast dealing with the introduction of new technology and this technology has its place in the killings and the storyline.

The original Scream is known for its opening scene and is one of the most memorable horror intros of all time. The filmmakers were obviously aware that it would be hard to top and tried to do something a bit different for the opening of Scream 4. Without going into detail, I will say that the intro will probably divide moviegoers. Some of the critics at my screening loved it, while others felt the intro takes you out of the film. It isn’t horrible by any means, but it does hamper the building suspense at the beginning and could have been more effective if done differently.

While the beginning of the first act initially turned me off, I’m happy to say that the film continues to build over the second and third act into a really strong sequel. I believe that issues I had with the intro won’t be a real problem on multiple viewings, but it does affect my overall impression and rating of the film.

Scream 4 quickly introduces the new high school cast, which includes Hayden Panettiere, Emma Roberts, Marielle Jaffe, Erik Knudsen, Rory Culkin, and Nico Tortorella. As a whole, the cast is not as strong as the cast of the original Scream and doesn’t gel in the same way. Part of this could be related to the script, because I don’t feel there is enough interaction before the killing starts to make you care for the most of the characters. The exceptions in the high school cast are Hayden Panettiere and Rory Culkin, who played their roles well and were convincing. I also had fun watching Anthony Anderson and Adam Brody’s buddy cop routine.

For those who are wondering about the kills in the film, they are more brutal than ever. They may not be as inventive as the kills people have come to expect from the Saw series, but inventive kills are replaced with savage stabbings from Ghostface. Fans will have to double check this, but I also believe the body count in Scream 4 is higher than in any of the previous installments. Slasher fans will not be disappointed.

I won’t talk about the ending in detail, but I will say that I am very impressed that they were able to keep you guessing and keep your interest the way they do. While Scream 4 doesn’t completely deviate from the Scream series formula, they are able to shake things up enough that it still feels fresh. Looking at other slasher franchises, I’d say the difference here is that the original talent returned for each film, there wasn’t a rush to create a sequel, and they weren’t afraid to try new things and shake up the formula.

So that you can figure out how my review and score fits in with your tastes, I’ve watched and enjoyed all of the Scream films, but I don’t consider myself a Scream fanatic. If you’ve enjoyed the previous Scream installments, you’re going to want to see this one. If you are a fan of slasher films in general, you’ll have a lot of fun with this as well.  Scream 4 is definitely not as good as the original film, but is worthy of the Scream name and one of the better sequels in the series. This is a fun and entertaining film designed for Scream fans and it makes me want to see Ghostface return for another sequel.


Score: 2.5/5