ann hale reviews the fourth installment of the horror franchise …
The announcement of Scream 4‘s release brought mixed reactions. The normal moviegoer probably let out a groan at yet another sequel, while the horror fanatic felt a rush of excitement over Wes Craven’s, no doubt, new masterpiece.
Now, I’m sure that calling Scream a masterpiece probably brought a scoff or two just now, but allow me to explain myself. Scream, released in 1996, changed the slasher horror film genre as we knew it. Before Scream, there were certain rules that horror movies had to abide by in order to be successful. Scream changed all of those rules.
First off, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), our heroine, has sex in the movie and survives. Slasher rules say that she should have died as a result of the loss of her virginity, yet she makes it through. Even more impressive is that Sidney has survived all the way to the fourth installment. The heroine always dies by the final chapter. In A Nightmare On Elm Street, Nancy made it through the first movie, only to die in No. 3. In Halloween, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) survived the first two and H20, only to die at the beginning of Halloween: Resurrection. Even Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) has to commit suicide in Alien 3. Not only does Sidney survive, but two of her friends, Dewey and Gale, survive through the first three as well. Friends do not survive horror films. Yes, they can make it through one, maybe two together, but never three.
Scream also introduced us to the multiple murderers. Slasher films always have the same killer. A Nightmare On Elm Street is always Freddy. Halloween is always Michael Myers. Texas Chainsaw Massacre is always Leatherface. But Scream gave us new killers each time. That is what made Scream so much fun to watch. Not only were you left to wonder who may die and when, you had to figure out who was behind the Ghostface mask as well.
Scream 4 had me thinking hard about what the possible outcome could be. I had several theories going through my head before I even entered the theater. First, I thought that this could be the old bait and switch trick. Scream had changed all of the rules, so why not change them back and surprise us? Sidney could die in the movie, just like every other series, and catch us all off guard since we all believe she will live to fight another day. Second, Sidney could be the killer. The heroine has never turned killer in a slasher series. Why shouldn’t Sidney be the first? If Scream is going to be the series to usher in a new generation of horror, this would be the perfect ending.
Now, to give a brief synopsis, Sidney returns to Woodsboro to do a book signing on her self-help book Out Of The Darkness. Here, she reunites with Dewey (David Arquette), the new sherriff, and Gale (Courtney Cox), his wife. A string of murders keeps Sidney in town, staying with her aunt and cousin, Jill (Emma Roberts). Jill’s teenage friends become Ghostface’s new targets in what seems to be a remake of the original Scream. This time, however, things have become a bit more up to date. Everyone seems to have an iPhone, equipped with the Ghostface voice app, and all of the murders are being videotaped. The rules are now different, as anyone can die, and the murders are a bit more vicious. I cannot tell you how it ends, but I can tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed it. There is a great jump factor, hot chicks, lots of blood, and a bit of humor. The best part of the movie, for me, was Hayden Panettiere. She was sassy, sexy and funny. She was basically the modern day Annie from Halloween, only less annoying.
If you’re a horror fan, slasher fan or even just a Scream fan, I strongly suggest going to see this. It was well worth the 11-year wait.