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McCoy on Movies: “Scream 4” Movie Review

McCoy on Movies: “Scream 4” Movie Review
Neve Campbell is back for a new dose of terror courtesy of the killer known as “Ghostface.” Does that mean you should run to or from “Scream 4”? Read on to find out!
"Come back .. I was just working on preparing some barbecue, not fending off yet another crazed psychopath who wants to kill me!" Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) prepares to defend herself from the latest incarnation of Ghostface in “Scream 4”.
Credit: Phil Bray. © 2011 Dimension Films. All Rights Reserved.

 

KEY CAST MEMBERS: Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Emma Roberts, Alison Brie, Hayden Panettiere, Brittany Robertson, Aimee Teegarden Adam Brody, Anthony Anderson, Marley Shelton, Rory Culkin, Erik Knudsen, Nico Tortorella, Mary McDonnell, Anna Pacquin, Kristen Bell, Marielle Jaffe, Lucy Hale, Shenae Grimes and some old footage of Heather Graham in the movie-within-a-movie, "Stab" 


 

WRITER: Kevin Williamson (screenplay); script doctors (not credited!)


 

DIRECTOR: Wes Craven


 

WEB SITE: www.scream-4.com

 

THE PLOT: The latest, long-awaited chapter in the ongoing film series, “Scream 4” (or "Scre4m" for those who prefer numbers in their titles a la Se7en) once again stars Neve Campbell as Sidney Prescott. With 10 years having passed since someone last tried to disembowel her, Sidney is starting life anew as an author of a memoir - "Out of Darkness" - with the last stop on her book tour being Woodsboro. Yes, THAT Woodsboro - where every time she shows up, the number of fresh corpses goes up.


 


So you know what that means right? To quote professional wrestling announcer Jim "J.R." Ross, "business is about to pick up" in the county morgue! 


 


But who will be among those slaughtered this time - and who is the person or persons responsible? Will it be/is it longstanding, old friends like Dewey (David Arquette), now the town sheriff and/or his wife Gail (Courtney Cox), now looking to write something new herself but struggling with writer's block? Will the body count include Dewey's deputies/detectives, Hoss (Adam Brody) and/or Judy (Marley Shelton), the latter of which seems to have a crush on her boss? Of course, who knows what Sidney's publicist (Alison Brie) is really up to.


 


What about Jill Roberts (Emma Roberts), Sidney's cousin and her dearth of Woodsboro High School friends and classmates. I mean, the body count could include her semi-stalkerish ex boyfriend Trevor (Nico Tortorella), the heads of the school's "Cinema Club" Charlie (Rory Culkin) and Robbie (Erik Knudsen) or admitted horror fan Kirby (Hayden Panettiere) among the rest of the masses.


 


Guess you'll have to see how things shake out for yourself to see who makes the final cut.


 

THE TAKE: Couple of things you have to understand before you see “Scream 4”: [1] The original film was a bit of a parody of horror movies and some of their staples while at the same time attempting to be an actual scary movie; [2] The new film still parodies some of horror movies staples, but in this case, it's a parody of the trend of horror movie remakes and needless sequels and [3] If you plan to watch pretty much any horror movie, you have to expect their to be some things you just let slide if you're going to have any chance to enjoy the film in any capacity.


 


So, with all that being said, “Scream 4” is not a bad movie, but it's certainly not a great one, either. 


 


Yes, there are some very witty observations uttered throughout the film. Yes, Ghostface (played by Dane Farwell in costume) is still athletically formidable as ever. And of course, the humorous moments - save for one horrible little line uttered by Anthony Anderson that I pray was an ad-lib the editor made the mistake of thinking was funny. But, as horror sequels go, “Scream 4” is essentially a Coke-vs.-Pepsi issue.


 


If you like the Scream franchise, you'll likely like 4. If you tapped out after the third film, 4 doesn't really have anything groundbreaking within it's near 2 hour run time that will likely bring you back into the fold. A better way to look at things might be like this: Do you enjoy the history of horror movies and the way the Scream franchise examines/exploits/exacerbates them with a mix of humor and intelligence, or are you looking for a traditional, jump-out-of-your-seat experience. If it's the latter, you're at the wrong movie. And if you're actually looking for a scary moment, look at how much you paid to see an evening screening as that will likely be the most horrifying thing about your “Scream 4” experience.


 


The acting, for a horror movie that is supposed to be more intelligent than the average horror movie yet still fit within the confines of a horror movie, is OK. Whereas the relationship between Gail and Dewey is the best thing chemistry-wise - what a shock; the couple that met and later got married and then divorced has the best chemistry! - most of the teen cast is expendable (and not just in terms of the body county). Fans of Panettiere, however, will be happy to know that she is at least picking better roles and doing better in them. (If you ever saw the utter disaster that is I Love You, Beth Cooper, you'll understand just how significant of an improvement that is.)


 


The ending sequence, however, is perhaps the most intriguing element of the film (especially given all of its script trouble that has been well documented in various media outlets). While explaining the problem of many horror remakes, it does a good job at showcasing all their problems. Then again, one might say given the history of the Sidney Prescott character, one might say the franchise is stretching itself a bit thin for the sake of its sequels. (Keep that in mind when watching the film since screenwriter Kevin Williamson has said he has treatments ready for a fifth and sixth installment of the franchise.)


 

PARTING SHOT (OR IN THIS CASE, STAB): Better than “Scream 3,” but by no means coming close to topping the original, “Scream 4” has enough sharpness left on its blade to entertain you ... As long as you're not looking for something cutting edge. 


 

RATING (OUT OF FOUR POSSIBLE BUCKETS OF POPCORN):

Tabari McCoy -

Tabari McCoy is Cincy Chic's movie critic. You can check out more of his work on his blog at McCoyonMovies.BlogSpot.com and follow him on Twitter at @tabarimccoy

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