*THIS REVIEW IS 100% SPOILER FREE. ANY COMMENTS LEFT ON THIS POST WITH SPOILERS WILL NOT BE APPROVED. THANK YOU!*
Let me just start this off by saying how exciting and unique it is to be able to go to the theatre and a see a horror film sequel on the big screen, 11 years after the last installment in the franchise. In a genre franchise climate with an 80% chance of remake and 20% chance of direct to DVD shitty sequel, it's really refreshing to see a fourth installment of a leading horror franchise up on the silver screen. It'd be like Jason returning from space for a Friday Part 11 instead of remaking the series, only to find Tommy Jarvis still hungry for revenge when he crash lands back on earth. Shit like that just doesn't happen in the genre. So despite Wes Craven's track record in those past 11 years, I had a genuine excitement in my bones going into Scream 4 last night, being that i'm a big time fan of the franchise. Well folks, i'm here to tell ya that Craven and writer Kevin Williamson have still got a healthy dose of the magic they unleashed on the world back in '96. As the third sequel to a slasher flick, directed by a current day Wes Craven, Scream 4 is pretty fuckin' good. Don't get me wrong though, i'm not just settling for mediocrity or saying it's good simply because it's better than crap like Cursed or My Soul To Take. It's a genuinely kickass and highly entertaining modern day Scream flick (Scream 2.0, if you will), one that all fans of the franchise should hurry out and see.
Lampooning all the things that have become staples within the genre since the last time Sidney and the gang pushed their vocal chords to the limits, everything from torture porn to POV horror to remakes, Scream 4 has managed to come along at the perfect time and once again make the perfect criticisms about the genre, things all of us have been discussing and debating over the course of the past decade. Much like the original Scream, this third sequel is both smart and cutting edge, at times serious and super violent and at others highly humorous and lighthearted, never afraid to include itself or its predecessors in the poking fun at the genre game. Like the Evil Dead series, it is my opinion that the Scream franchise is at its best when the humor and terror are tossed together in a blender (which is why I dig Scream 3 so much ... am I the only one?), and Scream 4 is a wonderful concoction of those two ingredients, mixing together to create a deliciously entertaining brew from start (total gold) to finish (the killer reveal/motive is surprisingly clever as opposed to lazy). I'm honestly shocked to be saying this about a Wes Craven movie made post Y2K, but I kinda loved it.
Scream 4 is certaintly no Scream, it does at times kinda reek of going through the motions training wheels filmmaking and there's a bit of noticeable CGI, but I had a blast with it and I really don't see why any fan of the franchise wouldn't. The kills are brutal and kickass and the humor fires on all cylinders, making this perhaps the best of the Scream sequels to date. With winks and nods to the original trilogy (keep an eye out for a brief glimpse of a Principal Himbry statue in one of the school scenes!), this one is for the Scream fan and for anyone who has been unhappy with the path the horror genre has taken in the past decade. Grab some overpriced faux butter drenched popcorn at the concession stand, kick back and just have fun with it.
As someone who loves Wes Craven, both as a person and a filmmaker, I hated to have to come on here and bash his work these last few years. I can't tell you how relieved and happy I am to see him getting his career back on track after such a long draught. This is a major step in the right direction that is infinitely better than Wes' last several efforts. I think a return to this franchise was exactly the jumpstart his career needed. Well done, sir.
Couple final little tidbits before I sign off ...
- Both Courtney Cox and Neve Campbell manage to look even better than they did back in 1996. Bravo, ladies!
- Where the hell were the zombie and scarecrow Ghostface masks that were released around Halloween time last year? Thought they were surely gonna have some tie in to the movie.
- Hayden Panettiere having Suspiria in her DVD collection and knowing who Gunnar Hansen is = nerd boner.
- The Nick Cave song Red Right Hand, the song that was featured in Scream's 1, 2 & 3 is not included in any way in this one. This makes me sad.
- Though I do love the franchise, i'm not sure another installment is at all necessary (... apparently Wes and Kevin have signed on for two more). I guess the possibilites of people to don the Ghostface mask and go on a killing spree are endless, but how many more characters can they dream up that will actually make the killer pertinent to the storyline of these past four films? Can't help but feel like the gas meter is flirting dangerously close to E. That being said, does anybody else think it would be kinda cool if Wes went the New Nightmare route and had Arquette, Cox and Campbell play themselves in the next one, and have a madman go around in the Ghostface garb to try and recreate the Scream movies and kill off the real life cast members? Or is that just a bad drunken idea I had last night that I shouldn't have shared?