Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Adam Brody, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere DIRECTED BY
Wes Craven SCREENPLAY
Kevin Williamson MPAA RATING
Rated R RUNNING TIME
103 Mins. DISTRIBUTED BY
Dimension Films DVD EXTRAS
Wes Craven Commentary for Feature and Deleted Scenes;
“Making Of…” Featurette;
Over 15 Deleted Scenes;
There's something about Scre4m, or Scream 4, to be admired. Far better than expected but still not quite "good," Scream 4 brings back Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) as she returns to Woodsboro as the last stop on a book tour for her recently published self-help book and, of course, the Ghostface Killer is right behind her.
Scream 4 believes itself to be a far hipper and cooler film than it is, but to the credit of screenwriter Kevin Williamson and director Wes Craven it still manages to entertain far more than one might expect from a fourth time around flick. After all, by Saw IV, Jigsaw was dead but people were still being murdered.
If you're familiar with the Scream series, then you likely already know not to head into the theater expecting to become outright scared. While this fourth in the series is by far the most violent in the series, the inventive and uniquely photographed killings are more funny than frightening and without exception our trio of leading actors are hardly putting any effort at all into their performances. It's no wonder that Courteney Cox dumped David Arquette shortly after shooting this film - Heck, I'd dump anyone who was as bad as Arquette is here as Sheriff Dewey, who is now married to Gale (Cox).
Most people who enjoyed the Scream films, or even just the original, will likely find the film's self-referential goings on more entertaining than will newcomers who haven't experienced at least the original film prior to seeing this one.
Perhaps recognizing that neither Campbell, Arquette nor Cox are box-office draws, Craven infuses Scream 4 with some younger blood ... emphasis on the word "blood," of course. Emma Roberts is here as Prescott's teenage cousin, Hayden Panettiere as her slightly more aggressive friend and there's a host of other interesting folks with a running commentary provided by super nerds Charlie (Rory Culkin) and Robbie (Erik Knudsen).
D.P. Peter Deming has a blast with the film's widescreen photography, with a variety of ultra-creative and significantly more graphic killings in store that still manage to elicit more laughs than anything. Of the three main leads, Neve Campbell is, rather fortunately, the strongest with an almost stoic performance semi-befitting of someone who has healed enough to return to the place where family and friends were murdered.
The film actually starts off quite promising, with a couple of very nice cameos and some rather funny set pieces that raised hopes that Craven had figured out how to make a fourth film, even George Lucas didn't figure that out, actually entertaining. Unfortunately, Craven can't quite sustain the entertainment or interest much past the mid-point and Scream 4 drifts off into a sea of killing after killing, mostly stabbings, that become tiresome and repetitive after awhile.
Fans of old school horror and suspense, think Hitchock or Powell, will find some interesting references in the film and if you've absolutely adored the Scary Movie series then you'll be right at home here.
It's rather hard to believe that Scream 4 is getting any kind of recommendation at all from The Independent Critic, but it's hard to completely trash a film that, even when its bad, seems to be accomplishing exactly for what it's aiming. Good enough to please most Scream devotees and nowhere near as awful as most are expecting, this isn't exactly a film you will scream for but it's not exactly one you'll regret seeing either.