(This post is completely, 100% SPOILER FREE! Read with ease!)
I was only 12 when I saw the first installment of the franchise that would eventually affect my entire outlook on films. It completely transformed the movie-going experience for me – not just in what I watched, but how I watched them and how engrossed I became with them as a result. Scream was really one of the first horror movies my young, naive eyes had ever seen in the theater. After watching Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore) get gutted and hung from a tree for her parents to find, I knew I would never be the same.
From there, I consumed Horror films with a ferocious desire. I completed all of my Slasher homework, rapidly devouring every seminal series in the sub-genre and all of its subsequent sequels and remakes. Thanks to Wes Craven, Kevin Williamson and the Scream series, I truly became a fan of horror, and even more importantly, became a fan of fandom.
Eleven years after the debut of Scream 3, a pivotal crossroads was reached that many series are often faced with. Should there be yet another film? Can a 14-year-old series return to the scene with more bite and more blood (Carnage candy! Your core audience expects it!)? In the case of the Scream series: Yes. Yes, it can.
In the latest edition, everybody’s favorite Final Girl Sidney Prescott returns to Woodsboro to promote her new self-help book, with her snarky publicist in tow (Community‘s delightful Alison Brie). Unsurprisingly, the blood starts flowing, as Sid’s cousin Jill (Emma Roberts) soon finds herself on Ghostface’s radar, along with her friends including party-girl Kirby (Hayden Panettiere) and film geek Charlie (Rory Culkin). (How sweet. Fresh meat.) As Ghostface makes the rounds, Gail and Dewey attempt to solve the crime just like back in the good ol’ days, but must grapple with the new concept at hand: New Decade. New Rules.
Scream 4 unravels with a few anticipated tidbits: it’s completely self-reflexive, it’s more meta, and it’s even more of a self-parody than its predecessors, if that was even possible. Though this tends to be thrown in your face at the start, when the action starts, the film does what it does best: create a funny, yet suspense-filled ride that you just can’t get off. A whodunnit of epic proportions! Once strapped in, you’re whisked away, soon remembering why the series made such a huge splash to begin with.
Everything I was nervous about (the new, fresh-faced cast; if the killer and motive would quench my Slasher-deprived thirst; if the story would really serve the need for a fourth film) was alleviated after my midnight viewing last night. I confess, I was an extremely fearful fan almost two years ago when this sequel was initially announced. There were so many ways this could have gone wrong (and not just in terms of plot). However, Craven and Williamson, along with Neve, Courtney and David, simply killed it – pun intended.
As the movie is being marketed, it’s a new trilogy for a new generation! Although I would still argue that the series should end here, I have to wonder. What if there’s another meek and unsuspecting pre-teen out there, who, just like me, will see this movie and be turned on to The Hills Have Eyes, Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Black Christmas…and dare I add it to the list of classics…the original Scream. Could Scream 4 have the same effect on a young, good-intentioned newbie as the first film did on me? And does that warrant the series’ fifth and sixths films? I’m not sure.
In closing, Scream 4 is yet another horror treat, filled with great characters, great dialogue and everything you’d come to expect from a Scream film. In the words of the departed Stu Macher: “It’s a scream, baby!” Even after all these years.