Nostalgia runs high as 90s kids sit down to revisit Woodsboro for a good-ol’ stabbing time. Due either to low expectations or the ingrained appeal of Ghostface, I found myself not disappointed. Scream 4 does exactly what you expect it to, and breaks no rules.
As fans can easily guess, Scream 4 opens with young, pretty girls answering scary phone calls. Soon we learn it’s the anniversary of the original Woodsboro murders, and Sidney Prescott has returned for a book-signing. It’s a recipe for stabbings we know by heart, with a nice updating of meta-references, facebook, twitter and iPhones. Ghostface is going viral.
The updating doesn’t feel as forced as I had expected either. Once you’ve entered the world of Woodsboro, you feel like you too have returned home and things haven’t been standing still. A new generation has grown up on the stories, told through the Stab movies for them and Scream for us. The two audiences, real and fiction, blend together. Some might find the film so desperate to get in every meta reference possible that it becomes silly, but for fans its expected and feels like a natural progression.
This also means there aren’t many surprises in Scream 4. It’s obvious from the get go we’ve come full circle. The only interest I felt separate from my nostalgia was trying to guess which twists the filmmakers would try and fool us with, but alas it’s all by the numbers. As the stock film-expert characters gleefully inform us: It’s not a sequel, it’s a “remake”. But that is only inside the film, for the rest of us it’s a sequel, or at best a revisitation. It’s enough to make your head spin, but the film doesn’t use this “rule book” for anything other than the occasional witty dialogue exchange. For anyone even remotely familiar with the franchise, you can easily see which paint-by-numbers this movie is following.
What’s your favorite scary movie? Not this one, but if your answer was the original Scream, I don’t think you’ll come away thinking this one has ruined anything. Scream 4 is what it is, and it fits into the canon nicely. I can’t really hate on it too much, because Scream 3 wasn’t exactly an improvement on Scream 2 either, and so on.
Dice roll: 3