Director: Wes Craven
Screenplay: Kevin Williamson
Starring: Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courteney Cox, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Anthony Anderson, Alison Brie, Adam Brody, Rory Culkin
Running Time: 111 minutes
Genre: Horror, slasher
Summary: It's been ten years since the notorious "Woodsboro Massacre", and Stab, the film based on the murders, has spawned six successful sequels. The small town of Woodsboro has put the murders behind it, to the point where the massacre have become something of a joke to the town's high school students until, on the tenth anniversry of the killings, two high school students (Aimee Teegarden and Brittany Robertson) are brutally stabbed to death by a killer wearing the same "Ghostface" costume and mask that the original "Woodsboro Massacre" killer wore.
The following day Sidney Prescott (Campbell), who has survived three previous massacres perpetrated by "Ghostface" killers, returns to Woodsboro to promote her book Out of the Darkness but almost immediately becomes caught up in the murders. Especially since her teenage cousin, Jill Roberts (Roberts), and her friends Kirby (Panettiere), Charlie (Culkin) and Olivia (Marielle Jaffe) are among those targeted by taunting telephone calls from the killer.
As Sheriff Dewey Riley (Arquette) leads the investigation, his wife one-time journalist Gale Weathers (Cox) (on whose books the Stab movies were based) determines to solve the killings, and it soon becomes apparent that this horror movie obsessed killer is planning a "remake" of the original massacre: with everything bigger and better than before.
Opinions: The original Scream (1996) was a massive hit with it's blend of scares, mystery, humour and movie references. It assumed that audiences were familiar with horror movies and so it had it's characters being equally familiar with the genre. The sequel, Scream 2 (1997), targeted it's jokes and references at horror movie sequels, while Scream 3 (2000), which was intended to be the final film in the series, referenced trilogies. This film, coming out eleven years after the previous one, deals with endless, and increaingly bad, sequels and the recent popular trend to remake older horror movies.
It opens with kind of a clever sequence in which two teenagers are savagely murdered in what appears to be an over the top self-parody, but is revealed to be the opening sequence to Stab 7 (the latest in the film-within-a-film series based on the events of the first Scream). It pretty much sets the tone for what follows.
Scream 4 (or if you prefer it's on-screen title SCRE4M) is not a bad movie at all. It's funny, it's clever, it has suspense and a few good shocks and pretty much delivers what anyone could expect from a Scream movie. The cast perform well, and Wes Craven directs with his usual sure hand. It benefits enormously from Kevin Williamson, who wrote the first two Scream films, returning for this.
The problem is that Scream was such an influential film in it's time. For about six years afterwards horror was full of jokey self-referential slasher films, none of which managed to get as good a balance between jokes and scares as Scream. Watching Scream 4 it's hard not too feel as if it's been done before, although that tends to always be the way with sequels. At least this makes an effort to stay fresh.
Scream 4 is an entertaining and enjoyable movie, which fans will certainly enjoy, and is in fact an improvement on it's predecessor.
Neve Campbell in Scream 4