HT Schuyler: Scream 4 Review

Posted: December 21, 2011 by htschuyler in HT Schuyler's Movie Reviews

Rated 14A for strong, bloody violence, strong language and teenage drinking.

Starring: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Emma Roberts, Rory Culkin, Erik Knudsen, Roger Jackson (voice), Mary McDonnell and Anthony Anderson.

Directed by: Wes Craven.

Scream 4 was a movie I meant to see and review a long time ago, and I honestly don’t know why it has taken me so long to do so. It seems pointless to do a review now, months after it was released, but after watching the movie, I had a lot to say about it. But before I get into that, here’s a quick rant about Wes Craven and the Scream series:

I like Wes Craven. I think he is a very talented director, and an icon in the horror genre. Honestly, I’m not sure where we’d be without him. Just because I like him, does not mean I like all the movies he’s made, as he’s made a few questionable ones. Despite my respect for the director, I was almost offended when I was watching the trailer for Scream 4, and he had the nerve to call himself the “Master of Suspense.” …excuse me? First of all, the Master of Suspense is Alfred Hitchcock, end of story. Second of all, his movies are not really suspenseful! I wasn’t exactly sitting at the edge of my seat while watching Cursed, or any of his films for that matter. I would never insult a horror icon like Craven, but “Master of Suspense”? Really? His movies are more scary than suspenseful, so if he wants to call himself the “Master of Terror” go for it, but not “Master of Suspense”. That title is already owned by one of the greatest directors of all time, and it should stay that way.

All right, now that that is out of the way, here’s a quick rant on the Scream films: I really like the first Scream. I think it is a very clever, well written and for the most part well acted satire on the horror genre, and I would even go as far as to call it a classic. As for the sequels…yeah, they suck. Alright that’s a little harsh, but honestly I really don’t like Scream 2, and although I don’t mind Scream 3, it’s still not a very good movie, and a major let down after the first one being so good. I do recognize that each film parodies a different type of horror, for example Scream 2 makes fun of pointless horror sequels and all the dumb moments in them, and Scream 3 pokes fun at when horror movies have obviously run out of ideas, and have “jumped the shark” in attempts to keep their franchise alive. So with that in mind, the movies aren’t terrible, and have their clever moments, but being clever does not actually excuse you from making a dull movie, and that is honestly my main flaws with the sequels, they’re just dull. Well, with all that in mind, let’s dive into Scream 4…

The movies begins with two girls deciding what movie to watch, and one of them chooses SAW IV, only for the other girl to state how stupid the SAW series is and how she hates them…way to start off on my good side movie…then Ghostface comes and kills them, only for us to find out that it was actually a movie inside a movie (MovInception?) and that two girls (played by Anna Paquin and Kristen Bell) are actually watching STAB 6 (a film series in the Scream universe that is meant to mirror the Scream films). We then find out that this yet ANOTHER movie inside a movie, and that the real two girls are watching STAB 7. Then they get killed and we find out that this is Scream 4. From then on we get some form of a plot as Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) returns to her town of Woodsboro on her book tour, and soon enough people start getting killed and she has to solve the mystery while at the same time try to protect her cousin Jill (Emma Roberts). And that is more or less the plot. The only difference between this movie and the first one besides the characters is that this time there are new “rules” that horror movies follow, so the kills and scares are more extreme or elaborate. Acting is very mixed. Neve Campbell does her best, and Emma Roberts is actually quite good. Courteney Cox is as annoying as ever as “Gale Weathers”, and David Arquette’s character “Sheriff Dewey” is as useless as ever. All of the teenager characters are hit and miss. Rory Culkin and Erik Knudsen are very good, playing the movie nerds that know everything about horror films. They’re not as likable as Jamie Kennedy was in the first movie, but they do the job. Hayden Panettiere’s character is very annoying, and Jill’s ex boyfriend Trevor (Nico Tortorella) is just flat out creepy, making for some very awkward moments (not really a good thing). Mary MacDonnell is unfortunately barely in the movie, which is a shame because she is probably the most talented actress involved. I could keep going but honestly there are so many forgettable characters in this movie that I would just be wasting time. Let me sum it all up in three words: Everyone is okay. There you go.

The Good:

There are some really good “scares” and kills in this movie, and an actually really clever ending that took me surprise. There is some good dialogue here and there, and it is bizarrely fun watching the characters talk about horror movies. The movie moves at a fairly good pace, and I was never bored. There are some really smart set ups to kills, and enough twists and turns to keep you invested. Plus, Sidney says one of the most badass lines in movie history that I unfortunately can’t say without spoiling the end. Also, Ghostface is a pretty badass villain, and Roger Jackson does a great job as “The Voice” making the scenes with characters on the phone very tense and disturbing.

The Bad:

My biggest flaw with this movie is that you don’t care about ANY of the characters. I never really liked the three leads from the first three movies to begin with, and I still don’t care about them here. All of the supporting characters are dull and for the most part uninteresting, and they’re getting killed off at such a fast rate that your never really given a chance to care for them. Despite some of the kills being very creative and intense, some of them are just plain lazy. You’ll have a five minute set up to a kill, only for the person to die with a quick stab in the stomach. I’m not looking for something really gory or anything, it’d just be nice to see some creativity. Also, I mentioned how it was fun to listen to the characters bicker about horror movies, but it actually becomes too far fetched to comprehend, because apparently EVERY teenager in this town is a horror movie expert, and it’s all they talk about. For example, at one point Rory Culkin’s character asks Hayden Panettiere’s character who was the first person to play Leatherface, in which she replies Gunnar Hansen. Okay, first of all most teenagers don’t even know who Leatherface is, let alone who played him. I’m not saying they shouldn’t know, it just seems really far fetched that the average teenager would know that. It was moments like these where I found it hard to take characters seriously. It was also really annoying to see how dumb the authorities were in this movie. Anthony Anderson and Adam Brody play two idiot cops who spend their time when they’re suppose to be guarding Jill’s house, because I dunno, THERE’S A KILLER ON THE LOOSE, but instead they just play pranks on each other and ultimately achieve nothing.

My second biggest flaw with this film is it never really decides whether it wants to be funny or scary, so it ends up that your not scared at the scary moments and not amused at the funny ones because your too confused as to what emotion you should be feeling because the film switches rates so fast your not given a “breather” in between intense scenes. Some movies can pull this off quite well, such as Shaun of the Dead or Creepshow, but here it just comes off as confusing. Don’t get me wrong, there are some funny and scary scenes in this movie, but the good ones work really well and the bad ones fail pretty bad.

In Conclusion:

Despite my rantings, I did have some fun with this movie. I guess overall it was just sort of pointless, because a fourth Scream really didn’t have to be made. But alas, it was. It’s not a terrible sequel, and it’s better than the second, but this entire movie just felt like it was a way for the filmmakers to express their displeasure with the new horror genre and what it’s become. And with that in mind, I do agree with the message this film is trying to send, that the horror genre has succumb to nothing more than remakes and sequels with little creativity and originality. But at the same time, there are some really good recent horror movies out there, and maybe if studios weren’t busy making sequels like…I dunno, Scream 4, then we’d get more original movies. So, would I recommend this movie? If your a fan of the Scream movies your going to see it anyway, or have already seen it, and if your a horror fan that wants to see some light entertainment then by all means check it out. Ghostface is a really cool horror villain, and despite it’s flaws this movie is still a lot of fun. I say give it a chance.


  1. CMrok93 says:

    Surprisingly awesome for a series that seemed like it was wearing a bit thin towards the end there. The film is more suspenseful than it is actually scary, but being a fan of the whole series (even the 3rd), I had a great time with this film. Good review HT.

  2. Matt Stewart says:

    Great review! I am actually quite surprised this one got so many positive reviews, but I can’t really comment because I’ve only seen the first Scream.

    Nice work!

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