Film Review: Scream 4

Another month, another belated sequel to a popular franchise. Thankfully Scream 4 is one of the better of these types of film; it works well as a sequel as well as a stand-alone movie.

Ten years after the Woodsboro massacre, Sidney Prescott returns to the small town to promote her book. Her arrival coincides with the murders of two high school students, not unlike the ones that had taken place previously and replicated in the Stab movies. It seems the killer is back, and after Sidney and her friends once again…

Scream 4 is an enjoyable episode in the horror series. Fans of the franchise should be pleased with this most recent installment. There is a period midway through the film when momentum starts to wane, but the film recovers before too long. The film certainly works more so than Scream 3. Although there are ridiculous incidents in this movie, it flows better than its predecessor.

Scream and its successors were never the scariest of horror films. Scream 4 follows suit; there are a few jumpy moments, but the film could never be classified as terrifying. Instead, the film relies on humour and mystery to maintain audience interest. Given that it is the fourth film in the series, it is not made clear which of the original cast members will survive, if any. Furthermore, the identity of Ghostface remains a mystery, with director Wes Craven offering a number of likely suspects.

Scream 4 works so well because it never forgets that it is a belated sequel. Like the other films in the series, it plays with horror conventions, never missing an opportunity to reference them. Writer Kevin Williamson litters the film with mentions of genre films, updating to make light of the plethora of horror remakes that have been produced in the intervening period between the last Scream movie. The opening sequence is exemplary, depicting just how self-reflexive the series has become. Characters in the film discuss how meta events are; taking the joke to the nth degree.

Performances are good all round, with Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox and David Arquette reprising their familiar roles. Emma Roberts is convincing as Jill, but Hayden Panettiere is less believable as best friend Kirby. Rory Culkin is well cast in the Randy-esque role of Charlie.

Although the deaths are not particularly imaginative, the humour and self-reference sufficiently entertain. Scream 4 is a well-constructed and enjoyable movie, given that it is the fourth in a series.