Saturday, April 16, 2011

Box Office Review - Scream 4

Throughout this film, I was thinking how horrible and depressing it would be if a slasher film tried to be realistic. After the first gruesome murder, the friends of the mutilated wouldn't tell jokes and continue to party, but would be shown weeping and inconsolable after the horrific murder. With every death there would be more weeping and the characters would become even more inconsolable, until all the dialogue would be sorrowful wailing. I am pretty sure watching something like that wouldn't appeal to most people. Not to worry though, Scream 4 (or Scre4m) has the same emotionless and seemingly soulless characters as is custom in the Slasher genre. The difference is that all the characters have knowledge of slasher movie cliches. The Scream franchise is known for its self referential and aware take on horror movies. Unfortunately this is no longer anything fresh or original.

It been eleven years since the events of Scream 3, and there is a whole new generation of Woodsboro high school students for Ghostface to terrorize. With the advancements in technology no longer is the killer with the Edvard Munch inspired mask bound to using landlines to make his ominous calls. Iphones seem to be the phone of choice for Ghostface, and he even gets online and uses Facebook and Twitter.

With the new comes the old, and the old means returning characters Sidney, Dewey, and Gale. I was hoping that this new sequel would at least kill off one of these characters, but alas no such luck. Sidney (Neve Campbell) has emerged from her multiple horrific experiences the better for them, and she has even written a best selling book. Dewey (David Arquette) is Woodsboro's sheriff and Gale (Courtney Cox) has gone from media queen to Dewey's wife. These three survivors end up back together when Sidney stops in Woodsboro on her book tour. Of course as soon as she arrives back in town, the knife murders start up again. This time the killer seems to be targeting Sidney's niece Jill (Emma Roberts). Jill's circle of friends is as media and horror movie obsessed as Sidney's back in the 90s, so the majority of talk is about horror movie rules and so forth. After all the characters are introduced, the movie just follows the laid out and well worn path of previous films. Red herrings are used to trick the audience, while characters are picked off one by one until the killer is revealed.

The problem with Scream 4, is that it becomes tedious very fast. The characters knowledge of horror movies doesn't prevent the film from following horror movies cliches. It is as if your walking and someone warns you many times that there is a hole in front of you, and then the person warning you falls into the hole. If knowledge of horror movies actually helped the characters it would be interesting, but since it doesn't, the joke gets old fast.

This was a problem with the other sequels as well, but it wasn't a problem with the original Scream. That is because the original Scream actually does interesting things with the self awareness joke. Rather than just talking about how much they love horror movies, the characters actually watch John Carpenter's Halloween. Carpenter's film becomes a big part of the third act of the original movie, and I wish that was mimicked in the sequels.

Self awareness is now over done in movies, and is more of a crutch than a clever joke. The total lack of anything interesting in the film makes Scream 4 a very forgettable watch. I much prefer Wes Craven's last film My Soul To Take, which is totally ridiculous and more fun than this weak effort. Seeing as that film never found an audience critically or commercially, you can buy it for less than the price of a movie ticket. I would recommend doing that and skipping Scream 4 all together.

A Banana Peel

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