Scream 4
Director: Wes Craven

Cast: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette
Review by Brian M. Sammons

Scream 4, or as they insist on marketing it, Scre4m, has been a long time coming. The last time we saw the Ghost Face killer was back in 2000, and that movie, while far from great, did sort of wrap up the overarching plot of the Scream slasher trilogy. So why do another one now, after more than a decade? Why money, of course! Why else does Hollywood ever do anything?

Well I’ve got to give them some credit; at least this is an honest to goodness sequel and not another lame-ass remake. But then, that’s part of the joke that runs through this entire flick, and that does get pretty old pretty fast. Hmm, I guess that could be said about many aspects of the Scream movies, so I’m not going to hold it against this film. Anyhow, on with the show.

Sidney, Gale and Dewey are all back for this fourth stab (heh heh) at things. Unfortunately so are a bunch of young pretty people, the so called “next generation” this movie was obviously attempting to pass the torch to. And while the new crew doesn’t do anything bad, pretty much whenever they are on the screen, I’m wishing it would be the old trio. Neve, Courteney, and David are what made the Scream flicks so good (yeah I guess the writer and director might have had something to do with it too) and while I was happy to see them here at all, I just wish they played a bigger part in this film.

That bit of misplaced priorities aside, the story here is basically right out of Scream 101. Sid returns to her home town where the first flick took place to promote a new book she’s written about all the craziness she’s survived. There she bumps into old friends Dewey, who’s now the sheriff, and his wife Gale, who’s trying her hand at writing fiction, but the old investigative reporter blood still burns inside her. Naturally the fourth member of that “old gang” is the masked murder maniac, Ghost Face, and it isn’t long before he/she/they pop up to make some spooky phone calls and spread some carnage around.

From the opening “kill a celebrity” thing, which they take to such an extent in this film that it is both awesome and ridiculous, to the guess who’s the killer game as the assembled cast gets bumped off one by one, from tonsils to toenails this is undoubtedly a Scream movie. That includes all the humor, the perhaps a bit too pithy dialog, the memorable kills, some decent shock scares, and the unmasking of the killer(s) at the end. And honestly, that last part that was probably my biggest gripe with this film; who the killer(s) was and their motivation for murder. I thought it was pretty weak sauce, even weaker than the motivation of Mickey from Scream 2 (gee, I hope I didn’t spoil that 14 year old movie for anyone) and it was more than a bit silly. Oh, and for long time fans of the series that have yet to see Scre4m, that’s a bit of a hint for this flick, but I will say no more.

The new Blu-ray from Anchor Bay and The Weinstein Company is one of those neat tri-combo packs, which includes the movie on Blu-ray, DVD, and a downloadable digital copy. I only watched the BD version for this review, because I’m not going to sit through it back to back to back, so I can only comment on how it looked in HD, and that was damn good.

As far as the extras go, they’re not bad, but they’re also nothing to scream about. Ha, ha, get it? Anyway, first and foremost there’s a director’s commentary track, with actors Emma Roberts and Hayden Panettiere joining in. Even Neve Campbell makes a “special guest appearance,” which is a polite way of saying that she could hardly be bothered to say a few things for a very few minutes. But then Courteney Cox and David Arquette couldn’t be bothered to stop in at all, so good on her for doing anything. Honestly, I would have much rather had a commentary track by Wes Craven, writer Kevin Williamson, and the trio of actors who have been with this series from the start, but the effort put for here was still ok. Anyway, there’s a collection of 20 deleted and extended scenes, all with commentary from director Craven, if you wish it. Sadly, the remaining extras are pretty lackluster and they include a nine minuet gag reel and a ten minuet “making of” piece that pretty much just reeks of the usual promo piece and doesn’t really show anything behind the scenes, or anything even remotely interesting.

Scream 4 was a fine continuation of the Scream series. If you liked those other movies, you’ll probably like this one as it pretty much is more of the same. In fact, I thought it was much better than the third flick, which could be proof that writer Kevin Williamson did add something to these movies, as the third movie was not penned by him and this one was a return to the Ghost Face shenanigans for him. I only mention that because there has been some debate among horrorheads on just how much skill he has as a terror scribe, probably based on his association with the woeful I Know What You Did Last Summer flicks. Anyway, while this movie doesn’t reinvent the wheel, or really doing anything new at all, it was a fun, popcorn muncher, stalk and slash flick and if that’s what you’re looking for, then Scream 4 will do that for you just fine.

About Brian M. Sammons

Brian M. Sammons has penned stories that have appeared in the anthologies: Arkham Tales, Horrors Beyond, Monstrous, Dead but Dreaming 2, Horror for the Holidays, Deepest, Darkest Eden and others. He has edited the books; Cthulhu Unbound 3, Undead & Unbound, Eldritch Chrome, Edge of Sundown, Steampunk Cthulhu, Dark Rites of Cthulhu, Atomic Age Cthulhu, World War Cthulhu and Flesh Like Smoke. He is also the managing editor of Dark Regions Press’ Weird Fiction line. For more about this guy that neighbors describe as “such a nice, quiet man” you can check out his infrequently updated webpage here: http://brian_sammons.webs.com/ and follow him on Twitter @BrianMSammons.

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