Scream 4 (Review)

Horror franchise needs a fresher update

Apr 18, 2011 at 2:06 pm

The most exciting part of the latest installment in horror maestro Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson’s slasher deconstruction series is the intro, which is how the original was able to grab audiences — by offing a familiar actress during the pre-title sequence, it meant that anything could happen. The swift kill wasn’t about trying to build suspense like in Hitchcock’s Psycho; this was just what the doctor ordered for the ADD/ADHD set.

This time, the imaginative duo offer tantalizing teasers to the Stab movie-within-a-movie framework that playfully make audiences want to scream because we know its all so damned hard to be meta, meta, meta. And yet it's the kind of shock joke that works without having to work too hard — that happens soon enough, the hard work, I mean.

Truthfully, you can only slash the slasher so far; in the end, dead is dead, and maybe its time for Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), Gale Weathers-Riley (Courtney Cox), Dewey Riley (David Arquette) and the Ghostface Killer to stay dead already. By now, it seems like everyone connected to Sidney’s family (and damned near everyone in the Tristate vicinity of this town) should be mincemeat, but somehow they were able to animate enough young bodies to feed into the Scream grinder.

The lone standouts are Rory Culkin and Hayden Panettiere, who harken back to the smart party vibe of the original cast before it got whittled down to the trio of hoarse survivors. Maybe next time, Craven and Williamson will bring back a couple of fan favorites from the great beyond for a real scream. Grade: C-plus