I am not a horror fan. I don’t get the appeal of getting scared. However, there are some horror movies that I love. They have to be more than just pure horror (I will never watch “The Human Centipede”). So I enjoy sci-fi horror films like “The Terminator” and “Alien” and horror comedies like “Scream.”
The “Scream” series is an interesting one. There is the first film that is able to be both a perfect slasher film and a great satire of the genre. The second two are also good, with “Scream 2” going to college, and “Scream 3” going meta inside a movie set. But it is “Scream 4” that holds a place in my heart.
“Scream 4” goes back to the high school from the first movie 10 years later. The movie follows Sidney Prescott (aka Neve Campbell) and her niece Jill Roberts (played by Emma Roberts.) The characters we know and love from the first three films are back, but we are also introduced to a new crop of doomed teenagers through Jill’s group of friends.
So yes, it sounds like a retread, but it shows how flexible the slasher tropes really are, and gives great twists to all of them. The opening sequences is not one, but three scenes of famous young actresses facing Ghostface and each one is more ridiculous and shocking than the last. Hayden Panettiere (who is by far the stand out of the cast) fills the “slutty friend” role but slowly is revealed as the true horror expert.
And when [SPOILER ALERT, SERIOUSLY I AM GOING TO REVEAL THE KILLER] the mastermind is shown to be Emma Roberts’ character, we see our assumed protagonist have the greatest evil turn in the history of cinema. Seriously, stop what you are doing and watch this YouTube video (https://youtu.be/j6VN8i1K6ZM). And after she’s the ‘final girl,’ she has to fake her injuries. It’s amazing.
Honestly, the twist at the end makes the movie thematically interesting and is the best example of a modern slasher film that I can think of. Here’s a girl who wants to be the final survivor to become famous, and she will do anything to get there. Emma Roberts, who at the time was most known for “Nancy Drew,” sells both sides of the character masterfully, and the deaths range from funny to intense to actually emotional. It’s a perfect capper to an amazing series, and it shows the brilliance that was Wes Craven in his last directorial film.
It’s as sharp and witty as the old slasher classics, but has been forgotten because it’s a sequel that didn’t really perform well at the box office. And while “Scream” was able to put a twist on slasher films, “Scream 4” had the harder task of putting a twist on the “Scream” franchise. I believe it did that masterfully, and I would be happy to lend any of you my DVD copy.
Let me know if you’re a fellow “Scream 4” fan at @jay4ness, because I honestly don’t know anyone else that is.