[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B0050I7J92][/pullquote] When Wes Craven released the original Scream movie in 1996, it redefined what we know about the horror genre. He took all the conventions and tropes and spun them on their head, introducing characters that knew ˜the rules’ of surviving a horror film and bending the fourth wall in a post-modern way with the goal being a tongue-in-cheek homage to the great horror films of the past. There were two immediate sequels that did not fare quite as well commercially and critically. 2011 saw the release of the fourth in the franchise in an attempt to do what the original did and give Craven’s career the boost it needs.
Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) returns to her hometown of Woodsboro on the anniversary of the now infamous killings that took place there. She is there to promote her new book that talks about her surviving the ordeal and looks to stop production on the Stab franchise of films that were originally based on said events. Whilst in town local teens start being murdered in a similar way to the original victims and it isn’t long before Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox-Arquette), Sherriff Dewey (David Arquette) and a new generation of horror fans are put in jeopardy at the hands of the sinister ghost face.
Re-establishing the old cast gives this, the fourth film in the burgeoning franchise a nice healthy link to its past glories, although Cox-Arquette is clearly showing the effects of a little too much botox, which is distracting. Newcomer to the films, Emma Roberts is a breath of fresh air and shows signs of being as talented as Campbell was in her prime. Other than them, there are some higher-calibre cameos as with previous films, including Anna Paquin, Kristen Bell and Hayden Panettiere.
The film however struggles to overcome its own baggage. It is the fourth film, as mentioned, which means that it is clearly running out of new ideas, so what they’re doing is playing homage to the original, itself an homage to previous films. All of this leads to a confusing mess of a plot, that vaguely resembles the original, but with the introduction of mobile phones and tired clichÃ©d speeches about the new ˜rules of horror films.’ At no point is there any real intrigue as to who the murderer or murderers are (the great strength of the first two) and you’ll find yourself bored throughout with precious little real comedy or action.
The murder scenes are more violent and visceral than previous instalments although this is explained in reference to the rise of films such as Saw and Hostel. Although frankly, they didn’t work in that context and they don’t work here. The twist is predictable and disappointing and although the reasoning is original enough, but by that point you simply do not care about anyone left in the film.
Comfortably the worst instalment so far, it lacks any originality, throws in a confusing plot and some stunt casting and allows you to watch the car-crash unfold in front of your bored eyes. Less, genre-busting than meta-nonsense, they take any good will left from the first film and stab it to death with a sharp knife.