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Movie Review: ‘Scream 4’ takes a stab at a reboot

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Michael Phillips
Copy Editor

A decade later the fourth installment of “Scream” proves that Wes Craven is still truly a master of the horror genre with the continuation of the Scream franchise.

The film opens up in a different fashion than the previous films showing an adjustment to the current times. By poking fun at the skew of recent horror movies and the film industries obsession with lackluster reboots and uncreative sequels.

This opening is more comedic than frightening but this is “Scream” working on one of its strengths; its ability to parody itself and other films within the horror genre.

I admit I was taken back by its comedic opening and wondered if Craven could truly produce a successful sequel after a 10-year absence from the subsequent works.

However, when the actual horrific opening occurred I knew Craven was just as capable as he was in the past, maybe even more.

The film takes place 10 years after “Scream 3” with Sidney Prescott played by Neve Campbell finally living her life and coming to terms with the horrors of her past.

Sidney is now a writer, and has documented her escape from darkness in a new book which brings her to the home of the original Woodsboro murders.

On Sidney’s first day back in Woodsboro there is already a body count.

“Scream 4” showcases returning characters as well as a new generation of victims.

Some of the characters personalities shine through while others personalities remained on a surface level revealing their true purpose; to die.

There was little to no sympathy for the first two to four victims but this is where the film gained momentum and established its base.

Unlike other horror movie sequels and reboots the returning cast in “Scream 4” has realistically developed rather than being the exact same characters they were in the previous installment.

Sidney, for example, feels like Jamie Lee Curtis did in the “Halloween” films. She is no longer a defenseless victim; instead she is a survivor.

The film strays away from insane gore, though in a few particular scenes there is an abundance of blood and intestines.

The formula of Scream is still apparent, the costume, the signature knife, the phone calls and obsession with horror movies.

Craven breathes life into a genre on the edge of mainstream extinction; the formula of “Scream” is kept intact to revive the slasher film subgenre of horror films.

In the recent years the Slasher subgenre has been replaced with psychological thrillers and films that have disgusted audiences versus genuinely scaring them.

“Scream 4” does not rely on making an audience uncomfortable or offering audiences a new dose of exaggerated gore, it instead aims to actually scare its viewers.

Besides trying to scare you, there are actually a lot of funny moments in the movie. The film pays homage to itself as well as parodies itself creating an innovative mixture of laughs and kills.

The film could have been a bit more serious and scary but the mixture proved well for horror enthusiasts as well as those often skittish of horror movies.

Throughout the film I sat on the edge of my seat, mentally rooting for the characters as they fought for their lives.

The ending itself is a big reveal and there is a lot of tension and suspense leading up to that, but generally many of the scenes lacked the drawn out heart pumping suspense that films by Craven usually exhibits.

The scenes aren’t rushed but many are not as drawn out and heart racing as the ones in the previous installments partly because, as the trailer says, “New decade. New rules.”

The films adaption of technology and social media pushes the plot exquisitely.

Technology is a strong force in the film and many times it is the driving force of the movie.

There were references to Twitter, Facebook, phone applications and the difference of the role of the media in our present times.

Critics have commented on the script and that some of the characters lacked initial shock as one would expect to have during a massacre.

Ultimately Craven has used “Scream” to make a statement on the current desensitized community.

“Scream’s” characters contrast between the old and the new and communicates something brilliant in between stabbings, and moments of sheer terror.

Usually sequels are a letdown never living up to their predecessors; however this installment of “Scream” changes its rules and approach for new audiences. Craven’s legacy is continuing to live up to the reputation of the subsequent installments.

“Scream 4” encompasses its past, various other horror films, and our technology savvy and desensitized society to create a legitimate sequel to a strong franchise. However, after proving itself I feel that it is time for ghost face to hang up the mask and leave the collection with four solid installments.

Michael Phillips can be reached at

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