How far can meta commentary and self awareness take a movie that is, in essence, repetition of it’s predecessors? In the case of Scream 4, quite far. Set about 15 years after the original film, Scream 4 follows survivor Sidney Prescott as she comes back to her home town and then the ghost face killer starts killing more people. If you’ve seen a film in this franchise before, you know basically what you’re going to get.
As noted above, this film retains all the on the nose meta commentary of it’s preceding films, to mostly good effect. If Scream was a film about horror movies, Scream 4 is a movies about Scream about horror movies. It’s also a film about reboots, remakes and sequels. There are multiple layers of meta here that are hard to miss. It also throws in it’s own modern spin about privacy and being filmed, the desire for fame and victimhood culture, much like how Scream 2 was a commentary on media influence in violence. It’s topical to be sure, but combined with the meta aspect of it, it’s just a tad too obvious. Not every film needs to be subtle in this respect, but I can see how some would find it a little overbearing or even groan inducing.
On a technical level, the film is competent in all relevant areas and the violence of film is as wrenching and brutal as ever, with copious amounts of blood spillage as expected of the series and slasher genre in general. The sounds of the stabbing, punches, kicks and tumbles down stairs pack a punch and foster the right kind of visceral feelings of shock and revulsion. Show this movie, or even any Scream movie to your faint hearted friends, it’ll be a treat! That said, whilst the kills are gruesome and satisfy the bloodlust of the slasher fan, their creativity is sometimes lacking, although there are a couple of good ones here and there. Even with all the incredibly attractive women (such as Alison Brie) in this film, the one slasher convention the film teases but never shows any nudity. You’re giving us all blue balls, Wes.
Performances in this movie aren’t anything particular to write home about or isn’t award-winning, but for a slasher film of this nature, it does the job. Unfortunately, however, all the characters are basically archetypes or if not that, returning characters from the previous films (perhaps that’s the point) but that is to the detriment of the film, none of the new characters are original or particularly interesting one way or another, which makes it difficult to care about them when they get stabbed or throats slashed, except in perhaps a ‘please don’t hurt the hot girl’ way. Also, I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen the movie yet but the ending is actually pretty good. Should you watch Scream 4? If you already like the franchise to some extent, then it’s worth your time. If you’ve never seen the series before, you should watch the original before watching this one. Check it out if you haven’t gotten round to it yet.