Movie Review Monday: Scream 4

Mike Finkelstein was home watching an old episode of “Sex and the City” when he got a weird phone call from some guy with a cold.  He went downstairs to get a snack, and everything was covered with red jam.  With that, here is his review of “Scream 4”.

PLOT: When Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) returns to Woodsboro on a tour for her new self-help book, she once again finds herself face to face with the Ghostface Killer.  Now, after a decade of silence, she must reteam with Dewey (David Arquette) and Gale (Courtney Cox) to stop this new copycat from going after her cousin, Jill (Emma Roberts) and her friends.

Check out the trailer:

MIKE’S REVIEW: SCREAM.  Drew Barrymore. “What’s your favorite scary movie?”  You say these things to any horror fan and they’ll smile as they remember the classic moments. SCREAM started a franchise and a brand new genre of 90s horror flicks.  So more than a decade after what was supposed to be the final entry of a trilogy (Randy is rolling in his fictional grave), and many very real script and production issues, could SCREAM 4 bring back such a franchise?

Out of all the sequels, SCREAM 4 is the truest you’re going to get to the original.  SCREAM 2 was a decent ride with more gruesome kills, but the killer’s reveal was out of left field.  And don’t even mention to me SCREAM 3.  For some reason, my 14-year-old self made that my second DVD purchase ever (still want to convince that idiot to put it back on the shelf).  Half-brother killer?!  What?!?

There is something to be said about going back to formula.  After ten years, you don’t need crazy deaths from exploding houses, ridiculous trap doors and ‘how’d he get there?’ moments.  The movie was stripped of all complexities and got back to what made the first so powerful: a human killer able to creep around without being seen.  Mix that simplicity with some gruesome deaths and the nostalgia and excitement felt when the Dimension logo popped up and the phone rang, and we’re in for the ride.

Speaking of nostalgia, it was great to see Sidney, Dewey and Gale on screen again.  Even after a decade, all three actors slid back into their shoes easily.  At the same time, we have a very talented and fun group of high schoolers joining in on the fun, with Rory Culkin, Emma Roberts and Hayden Panettiere being the highlights.  The only person I couldn’t stand was Nico Tortorella’s Trevor.  I haven’t seen the guy in anything else, but he was acting so obviously creepy, stalkerish and evil, I couldn’t believe anyone would ever date him.  I couldn’t blame him for the performance, though…I kept imagining Craven and Williamson making him act like that to force the “I’m the killer” vibe.  (Whether or not it’s true, you’ll find out in the end.)

I have to admit, there were some major flaws that destroyed the horror and made the film more of a comedy.  With SCREAM, Wes Craven created a movie where you could be horrified with some self-deprecating humor laced throughout.  Here, he brought back the same feel, so you knew you were in familiar territory, but there was so much humor and ridiculousness that at points, you couldn’t help but see this as the franchise’s BRIDE OF CHUCKY. Case in point: How can Dewey, after going through this three damn times, still be the worst damn sheriff in the world?  Oh wait…maybe it’s because he has the two worst deputies ever in the forms of Anthony Anderson and Adam Brody!  And Gale hasn’t learned by now not to go into hay lofts alone when there’s a killer on the loose?  Craven said in an interview that the script was so in flux that they’d often “literally get pages the night before, sometimes the day of,” and you could feel it.  With a film that constantly talks about the new rules and new stakes, it really took a step in the wrong direction with everyone being just as stupid.

And what happened with the opening sequence?  The joke was funny at first, but it was gutted quickly!  The whole fun of the opening sequences is to have someone we care about die!  Drew Barrymore!  Jada Pinkett Smith/Omar Epps!  Live Schreiber/Cotton Weary!  Not some two random girls!  Hell, the one girl looked so young that it just felt uncomfortable…

The one aspect that I did enjoy very much was the ending.  I can’t say much without revealing massive spoilers, but I will say this: the first three movies ended right after the killer was done.  This one had almost a sort of epilogue.  It was like peeking behind the curtain into the madness after the movie should be over.  And the way it was dealt with was very smart.  Granted, with this huge praise, there comes one of the biggest flaws of the movie…a situation that would never ever play out like that in real life, but it was so smart and different, I didn’t care.  I was having too much fun.

Overall, I did enjoy SCREAM 4 very much.  Yes, there were many flaws, but it was great to be back in Woodsboro and see those familiar faces on screen after so long.  You really didn’t know who was going to live or die (including the original three), and if the Weinstein’s really go through with making another trilogy, I can’t see how any SCREAM movie could be made without Sidney, Gale and Dewey, unless they want the franchise to become a joke, like HALLOWEEN.  Even with some major issues throughout, this isn’t the type of movie where you need to critique drama and complexity, so if you’re spending the money, just go along, have fun, and enjoy the ride!

GRADE: B

Mike’s LIKES:

1) NOSTALGIA: No matter what happened in the movie, whenever you have a chance to see your favorite characters back on the big screen after such a long period of time, it’s worth it.  If you’re a fan of SCREAM, then seeing Sid, Dewey and Gale one more time while sitting in a dark theater will be bliss in itself.

2) JOKING WITH ITSELF: You know how BRIDE OF CHUCKY was CHILD’S PLAY 4, but also more of a farce with kills?  SCREAM 4 isn’t at that level of ridiculousness, but it definitely mocks itself enough and is self aware enough that it’s more of a horror/comedy than just straight out horror.

3) A WHOLE NEW ANGLE: The film’s message and final act took the entire franchise to the next level.  I can’t say anything without giving something away, but it was original and different from the generic horror rules, and was actually really refreshing.

Mike’s DISLIKES:

1) DEWEY: Dumbest. Cop. Ever.  Seriously…if you ever wondered how the hell this stuff could keep happening in Woodsboro, it’s because the Woodsboro police are complete idiots.  I’d feel safer with a monkey holding a hammer than Anthony Anderson and Adam Brody in front of my house.  Too stupid to be believable.

2) TREVOR: Again, can’t give anything away, but really?  I understand that Craven probably told Nico Tortorella to act like a complete creep/tool/insert insult here, but it just went too far.  Even Billy Loomis seemed like he could have been nice at some points.  Trevor…not so much, and I just laughed every time he came on screen.

3) REALISM: I have never EVER seen a hospital that deserted.  If there were a Code Blue, that guy would have been screwed.  ‘Nuff  said.

4) COURTNEY COX’S PLASTIC SURGERY: I know it had nothing to do with the movie, but it’s so obvious that Cox had some major work done.  All I kept thinking about was how unnecessary it was because she was still so naturally beautiful.  Age gracefully, Hollywood.

EXTRA FACTS:

1) Neve Campbell and Emma Roberts, two of the lead actresses in the film, both admitted to being terrified of horror films. Emma Roberts stated she was hid under the covers while watching the first 3 ‘Scream’ films. Also, Neve Campbell stated a while back that she can’t watch the films, because she doesn’t like being scared.

2) At a table read on June 25, 2010, the actors were told to stop reading at page 75 to prevent those already cast in the film from knowing the climax.

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