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Sunday, April 17, 2011

MOVIE REVIEW: SCRE4M

"What's your favorite scary movie?"
SCRE4M (Scream 4 )is the newest chapter in the Scream franchise. It's been ten years (11 in real life) since the infamous Woodsboro murders and Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) has returned home to promote her new book "Out of Darkness", a sort of self-help book after coming to terms with being the survivor of a three murder-sprees (the last 3 movies). Although her story had already been publicized, no thanks to the book by journalist Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) who is now married to Deputy Dewey Riley (David Arquette) now Sheriff of Woodsboro. Sure enough, upon Sidney's return home, the deaths start all over again in the same manner as the original murders. While Sidney stays at the home of her Aunt Kate and cousin Jill Roberts (Emma Roberts), the whole town is in chaos as Sheriff Dewey and Deputy Judy Hicks (Marley Shelton) try to solve the murders. Soon Gale takes it upon herself to try to uncover the murderer in her vain attempt to restart her career. With townspeople dying all around her, Sidney knows she is the ultimate target and awaits a confrontation with the new "Ghostface" killer while trying to protect her (extended) family.
The opening sequence of Scre4m, (or rather the two false openings of the movie) leave you confused and it isn't until about 10 minutes until we really get into the story. We see a much more mature Sidney (Neve Campbell, whose career has unfortunately been less than successful with various TV appearances). It seems almost too convenient that she picks the anniversary of the murders to come home to Woddsboro where the murders have become this unofficial Halloween-like holiday combined with the popularity of the "Stab" movies have made the town famous (or infamous). As Sidney finds kinship with her young cousin Jill, whose friends have been dying all around her she disregards Sidney's and her mom's attempts to protect her by keeping her at home but instead goes to her friend Kirby (Hayden Panettiere). As teens continue to be brutally murdered despite the town already being on edge and with police everywhere, the elusive killer manages to kill everyone around Sidney. The town's teenagers seem so desensitised to the events happening around them (even more so than the first movie) that the high school's Cinema Club stages their annual "Stab" movie-marathon party! The finale comes together in the typical Scream-tradition revealing the killer(s) (which I will not spoil!) however I find the ultimate identity of the killer to be both shocking and unbelievable than all of the Scream movies combined, the bloody climax makes about as much sense as the The Simpsons episode of "Who Shot Mr. Burns?"! Although I am a huge fan of director Wes Craven I feel he isn't entirely solely to blame as there was much conflict with the original writer Kevin Williamson that Craven admits the production was "stressful" (See EW.com for more).
It seems the story was really reaching on their victims with the introduction of Sidney's extended family and her seemingly plain cousin Jill. Gale and Dewey's relationship seems so awkward that even though the actors are married in real life their characters rarely show it.
While the first Scream films tried to make address the social commentary including the 90's teen scene and horror/slasher movies in general. The new movie does attempt to address the newest teen mentalities and diversions such as one scene in particular which was the only one that made me laugh: when the reports of the murders start coming in, there's a scene inside the high school classroom when all the students' cell phone go off and chaos ensues...!
The whole thing about Scream is the referencing of the so-called "rules of a horror movie" but as the apparent rules have changed, they no longer seem to apply in this new century and therefore contradict the reason the killers in the movies emulate the movies to begin with! At first, Scre4m started in the usual way, I knew going in that it could never capture the power of the original prologue of the first movie with the intense Drew Barrymore scene. After seeing Scream 4, I find myself feeling very conflicted...the horror fan in me wanting really hard to like it, but the other part of me wanting to denounce this movie as a travesty of film making and admitting to the ultimate "death of the horror genre" (which surprisingly is eluded to in the prologue of this movie by none other than Anna Paquin who plays a bit part!).