Scream 4 (2011) Review

Time: 111 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] contains violence, offensive language & horror
David Arquette as Dewey Riley
Neve Campbell as Sidney Prescott
Courteney Cox as Gale Weathers
Emma Roberts as Jill Roberts
Hayden Panettiere as Kirby Reed
Rory Culkin as Charlie Walker
Director: Wes Craven

At the end of her book tour, Sidney visits her home town after ten long years. As she catches up with old friends, her return not only brings back memories but also beckons the return of Ghostface.

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I didn’t remember too much about Scream 4 going into my rewatch of it, I just knew that it was made 11 years after the franchise’s original intended ending with Scream 3, and it is Wes Craven’s final movie. I liked it way better than I expected, in fact it’s my second favourite in the series.

Kevin Williamson has returned to writing for the franchise after his absence from Scream 3, and gives another witty and sharp script, which manages to be the most interesting of the Scream movies. The one thing I can say I really didn’t like was the opening, with a number of fake outs. Everything else is good though. Craven and Williamson keeps the charm of the previous movies, while reinventing itself as it moves into more modern times. The fun meta humour is back and has the sharp dialogue you’d expect. The satire has actually aged very well, and it probably has the most thought provoking themes and commentary of the franchise. Scream 1 focused on horror movies generally, Scream 2 was about sequels, Scream 3 was about trilogies, and Scream 4 satirises the cliches of modern horror movies, and with focus on horror remakes and reboots. But it doesn’t stop there, as it pokes fun at modern pop culture, fan culture and social media. It was particularly ahead of its time with that last one, and how people will do anything to get famous. I was entertained and engaged with the plot, and the twists worked well. It also has a bitter of a meaner edge to it, with a darker tone and more brutal kills. Additionally, Scream 4 probably has the best suspense of the franchise, and also has my favourite version of Ghostface.

The cast are great, with Neve Campbell, David Arquette and Courteney Cox slipping back into their roles seamlessly, and as usual the continuation of their stories being one of the highlights of the first four movies. The newer cast are also good, with the standouts being Hayden Panettiere and Emma Roberts.

Wes Craven directs Scream 4 incredibly well. The chase and attack scenes are really well done with a lot of suspense. The kill scenes are also a lot more gnarly and creative, definitely in line with the darker tone. Marco Beltrami also delivers another reliable score. One criticism that people had was of the bright look and the weirdly shiny and glossy cinematography. I can’t tell if it was a deliberate choice to mimic the lighting of other horror movies of the day, but it didn’t bother me too much.

Scream 4 was a real surprise, it has some great suspenseful set pieces combined with sharp and biting writing and solid meta satire. I found this to be the best of the Scream sequels, and likely the most fun I’ve had with the franchise. The series wouldn’t receive another sequel until 11 more years but if they decided to not make any more, Scream 4 would’ve been a good place to end it.


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