A ho-hum entry into Wes Craven’s erstwhile long-in-the-tooth franchise, “Scream 4” was supposed to kick off a second trilogy. But really, the tank is running pretty dry here.
All of the old gang (at least the surviving ones) are back, which is, by my count, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) and ol’ Deputy Dewey (David Arquette), who is now a sheriff, but, you know, whatever.
Basically your story is thus: Ghostface killer is back. Who is it this time?
Sure, that’s the story of all of the “Scream” films, but this time it’s twisty!
OK, nothing new yet.
This time, Sidney has written a book about her three rounds with the killah, and she returns to the scene of the (first) crime as part of her publicity tour. Then … well, you probably get the picture.
The new faces this time around include Emma Roberts, Anthony Anderson, Marley Shelton, Adam Brody and Hayden Panettiere, along with a gaggle or so of other new teen faces to be terrorized.
There is a nifty little self-referential nod to sequels at the film’s open that, of course, lampoons the “Scream” franchise itself, and that’s really what “Scream 4” is the best at doing. There’s a character obsessed with horror movies ala Randy (Jamie Kennedy) in the first films. Of course, technology has changed quite a bit since the first film (recall Sid at one point alerts the authorities in the first film by using her dial-up Internet connection), and Craven does integrate smart phones and Facebook, et al into the proceedings as best he can. But since Craven has already smartened us up and trained us for these technological advances, it doesn’t really say anything we haven’t already thought of.
But ultimately this is just another film in the line, placing above the dreary third “Scream,” but not approaching the heights of the first two. At this point in the game, the franchise’s central conceit — self-awareness — is the norm for horror films, and building another film around it is really pointless. The end product is mildly entertaining, and who the killer actually is isn’t hard to distinguish before the actual reveal.
The film’s finale is OK, but as my Yap colleague Nick Rogers put it in his review, it seems that there are only three people in an entire hospital, which sucks some of the realism from the proceedings.
The Blu-ray extras are fairly comprehensive, with an alternate beginning and ending (Wes couldn’t make up his mind, or maybe he was swerving his cast and crew also!), more than 15 deleted scenes including Craven’s commentary, and a gag reel.
This film is also available for digital download:
Film: 3 Yaps
Extras: 4 Yaps