“New Decade. New Rules”. Yet, it seems like it still follows with the same rules from the previous three outings with the final film in the ‘Scream’ series, ‘Scream 4’, which was also Wes Craven’s final film he directed before his passing, four years later.
This time, Sidney is back as a main character as she returns to Woodsboro for a book tour with her newly published book “Out of the Shadows”. However, “the angel of death” is greeted by a return from an unlikely foe she hasn’t seen in over ten years since the events of ‘Scream 3’, and you know by now, horrific events happen which targets Sidney. Same rules, same franchise.
While I loved the first ‘Scream’ film, and the sequel being close as good as the first film, the third film was disappointing and messy, does the fourth film follow in the footsteps of the third film or is it as sharp as the first two? The results is kind of in-between ‘Scream 2’ and ‘Scream 3’.
For once, the film’s opening is actually quite suspenseful, and just when you think the opening is over, they trick you with this cool and inventive “a movie within a movie” scenario. While yes, it still is the usual ‘Scream’ opening formula that you’ve seen in the first three films, but they tweak it enough to be fresh, yet still familiar.
It’s great seeing these “original” characters again after eleven years, and they continue to develop them, which could have been lacking, but thankfully they continue to update them in this modern day of age. Gale is taking a break from the spotlight of being a reporter, trying to write a fictional book, which she is having troubles writing, which was a great flaw to her character, yet making her a character that is struggling to cope in a small town married to a small town sheriff husband. Sidney has moved away from acting and working on hotlines, and now she is surprisingly following in Gale’s footsteps of now an author for her own book. And Deputy Dewey… well he is now Sheriff Dewey. But in all seriousness, he is also coming to the grips of sustaining a marriage with a well-known former news reporter.
The new characters don’t quite fall into the trap of the previous two films newbies, this time offering enough characterisation, to a couple of characters. The standouts are obviously the character of Kirby, who shares a particular skill in the knowledge of horror films, and while I could see her character isn’t as developed compared to her best friend Jill, but thanks to Hayden Panettiere’s strong acting performance, she has fun and offers a lot of personality to her character. Jill is another strong character, and strongest of the new cast. Yes, she is very reminiscent of Sidney, but that’s what the film is setting her character up as. Both characters share common experiences, and Emma Roberts provides a solid performance as Sidney’s cousin. Some of the other characters are lacking among characterisation and personality, particularly Trevor and Kate.
‘Scream 4’, surprisingly, lacks real suspense. Sure, the film is violent, but they just don’t seem as inventive this time around, making all the inventive ones all in the opening sequence. And while the film does pick itself up in act three, it’s a bit unfortunate there isn’t as consistent of humour or scares that the first two films successfully accomplish.