Movie Review: “Scream 4” – Warning: This movie will make you laugh.

It took me a solid month to realize it's also a knife!

“Scream 4” (***)

15 years ago, there was a movie landscape that didn’t include “Scary Movie”, “Shaun of the Dead”, “Date/Epic/Whatever Movie” or really much of anything that mocked other movies. Sure there were parodies, but they were genre parodies – never directly naming films and never direct mimicking. This all changed when the first “Scream” was released. It was the birth of a new age in cinema. In one swift move, it mocked the horror genre, even then stale with sequels, debasing all of the silly rules that everyone knew but were never mentioned. It even created new horror themes, like the idea of “playing a game” with the victim. At the same time, it was scathingly funny. Creating memorable movie nerds, TV reporters, and a new villain. Soon after, the sequel made fun of sequels, the third movie commented on trilogies, and this fourth reboot?

It does so much more than make of fun reboots. It’s ten years after Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) was involved in the Woodsboro Murders and she is releasing her new memoir of her harrowing tale. She returns to Woodsboro where she reunites with former rival Gale Weathers-Riley (Courteney Cox) and her sheriff husband Dewey (David Arquette), the only survivors from the original trilogy. As soon as she arrives to home sweet home, new murders set the town on fire again. This time, they not only concern the three survivors, but a new set of teens led by Sidney’s niece Jill (Emma Roberts) and her best friend Kirby (Hayden Pannetiere). 

1) Lauren Graham's sister? Almost (and almost for this movie!). 2) She's dating the Old Spice guy!

What the “Scream” series has always tried to do is balance the comedy against the horror. In the first they succeed admirably. Here, you might find yourself dying of laughter instead of from fear. There are a lot of “Oh thank goodness it’s just a cat,” type of thrills, but there are also some truly tense moments. Sidney is just as resilient as ever, but watching her thwart Ghostface while others die around her is incredibly compelling.

The standouts from this film, however, aren’t the survivors. The supporting ensemble has a few really quirky characters, desperately needed against the washed up tropes. Sidney’s publicist (Alison Brie from “Community”) is an updated Gail Weathers, hilariously redefining the stereotypes set in place before. Best friend Kirby has an edge that seems exciting compared to some other cookie cutter characters. And then there’s Robbie (Eric Knudsen), the new-and-improved A/V nerd who films his whole life to be a webcast.

There’s a lot of forward thinking with technology and communication, which ultimately leads the movie, well, forward. The killer, who the average moviegoer just might not be able to predict, becomes obsessed with filming the experience. The murders become art, the communication becomes global, and the insanity is heightened. In this hyper-connected Internet age, the characters in the movie rely mostly on cell phones and Internet access, whereas fifteen years ago owning a cell phone was so rare it made you a prime suspect. The film exploits the limits our society continues to push, but without ever losing its humor.

Don’t expect to be scared and don’t expect to cry laughing. Just enjoy the genre-defying ride. And the body count? 15.

This review was written for a different publication, so I’m sorry if I step on any toes by posting this here.

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One Comment to “Movie Review: “Scream 4” – Warning: This movie will make you laugh.”

  1. Surprisingly awesome for a series that seemed like it was wearing a bit thin towards the end there. The film is more suspenseful than it is actually scary, but being a fan of the whole series (even the 3rd), I had a great time with this film. Good review, check out mine when you can!

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