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STUDIO: Anchor Bay Home Video
RUNNING TIME: 111 minutes
- Deleted Scenes
- Commentary w/ director and cast
- Alternate Opening
- Alternate Ending
- Gag Reel
- DVD and digital copy included
Let’s make some money!
Directed by Wes Craven. Screenplay by Kevin Williamson. Acted by Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Marley Shelton, Mary McDonnell, Erik Knudsen, and one of the creepier-looking Culkin siblings.
It’s been a decade since the last trivia-themed killing spree. Dewey is now the sheriff of Woodsboro, Gale seems to have gone into retirement and become a housewife (very progressive of her), and Sydney has embraced the role of professional victim wholeheartedly, using her notoriety as the American serial killer community’s favorite muse to peddle an inspirational memoir. But when Sydney returns home to do a book signing, local teenage girls start getting creepy phone calls again, and before you know it the trio find themselves in the middle of a real-life ‘reboot.’
Let me start by saying that I’m an unapologetic fan of the Scream series. I don’t think they work terribly well as mysteries or as horror films, but I like the characters, I enjoy the self-referential humor, and I appreciate the geeky film-school commentary on slasher flicks, sequels, trilogies and the like. So I’m not exactly what you’d call a tough sell when it comes to this type of film.
That being said, as a fourth entry in the series made ten years after the fact, a sort of “what the hell, let’s make one more Scream movie” lark, Scre4m is… decent. It just doesn’t bring anything new to the table, something each of the previous sequels managed to do, despite their many flaws. Scream 2 killed Randy. Scream 3 sidelined Sydney (who’d been the driving force of the series up to that point), put Gale and Dewey center stage, and delved into the back story of Sydney’s mother, which at least brought an element of genuine mystery to the proceedings for the first time. Scre4m doesn’t manage anything remotely similar.
Worse yet… as a springboard for a new trilogy, Scre4m is abysmal. Given that the film was released theatrically several months ago, and since I don’t feel I can explore my thoughts on it fully without discussing certain key plot points, I’m going to venture into the realm of SPOILERS for a moment.
First off: almost none of the new characters introduced in the film survive. So any illusion that a new trilogy would feature Sydney, Dewey and Gale passing the reins to a new generation of slasher fodder is just that, an illusion.
Second: without getting too specific about the circumstances involved, there’s a moment near the end of Scre4m where it appears as though the killer might escape justice. Think of what a great set-up that would be for at least one more film: a scenario where the audience knows who the killer is all along (which is actually a staple of virtually every major slasher franchise except this one, as it happens), while the characters remain in the dark. I know I’m basically writing fan fiction at this point, but I think this could have taken the series in an interesting new direction. As it stands, though… none of it happens.
I also loved Sidney’s character arc over the course of the previous three films. In the first one, she’s struggling to accept the truth about her mother; in the second, she’s dealing with trust issues (owing to the fact that her boyfriend and another close friend turned out to be the killers the first time around); and in the third she’s become a recluse, shutting herself away to avoid being targeted by a seemingly endless parade of psychos. When she walks away from that open door at the end of Scream 3, it says something about the journey she’s been on, and the obstacles she’s overcome.
In Scre4m, Sydney is haunted by survivor’s guilt, prompted by the fact that she keeps walking away in film after film, while those she loves inevitably perish. This is an interesting notion, but sadly it’s barely touched on in the film, and is more or less dropped well before the credits roll. The previous films all featured a pivotal scene, at or near the end, where Sydney confronted whatever it was she was struggling with and either overcame, or found herself hoist upon it. There’s nothing like that here.
And a word about that lovely screen grab posted above: now, I’m a red-blooded American male and I enjoy a good cheesecake shot as much as the next guy. But the thing is, this young lady spends the last several minutes leading up to her (actually quite gruesome) demise prancing around the bedroom in her skivvies. This is exactly the sort of goofy B-movie nonsense the Scream flicks used to satirize. (The opening few minutes of Stab, anyone?) Now they’ve flown full-force into wallowing in those very same clichés.
Finally, we have the theme. Scream explored slasher films, Scream 2 waxed poetic about sequels, and Scream 3 pontificated about the tropes and what have you of the great American trilogy. In tried and true fashion, the latest entry takes aim at the horror genre’s current red-headed stepchild: reboots.
Now one problem with this is that, while the previous films at least arguably had something to say about the things they targeted, Scre4m has only the most superficial observations to make about reboots. There’s a deeper issue, however, which is only this: while the first entry in the series was a slasher film, the second was undeniably a sequel, and the third, at least from the perspective of those involved in making it, was intended to be the concluding chapter of a trilogy, Scre4m is in no way, shape, or form a reboot!
‘Reboot’ is a term that gets thrown around a lot lately, but what exactly does it mean? Is a remake a reboot? Does a reboot have to be a remake? I would argue that the absolute, bare-bottom definition of a reboot is that it has to ignore previous continuity; not necessarily all continuity, mind you, but a reboot has to disregard the events of at least some previous entries in a series or franchise. Halloween: H20 ignored the previous three films in that series, Highlander: The Final Dimension ignored the (only slightly less bloody) train wreck that was Highlander 2, and so on. Scre4m doesn’t ignore anything, therefore nothing is being rebooted. Just my two cents.
Is Scre4m a bad film? Not really. It’s just frustratingly unremarkable. Casual viewers will probably be entertained, but as a long-time fan of the series, I wanted more. If you’re going to resurrect a defunct franchise ten years after its presumed demise, you ought to have something new to say; Scre4m doesn’t.
The film looks great (unlike the recent Blu-Ray release of the original trilogy – and yes, I fully expect to be stoned for using that terminology in reference to the Scream films – which looked and sounded like @#$%). Plenty of deleted scenes, all with commentary. All in all a decent presentation. Now if only the movie was a little better…
Out of a Possible 5 Stars