OHMC 2013 – Scream 4 (2011)

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I’ve been neglecting this Challenge blog project for too long! How terrible of me. I have two more films right now that need to be blogged sooner rather than later, not to mention a write-up for Nitrate Diva’s Vincent Price Blogathon, not to mention a couple of reviews for Cult Reviews, not to mention more reviews for both here and for Dreams In The Bitch House. Whew! So for now, let’s take a look at Wes Craven’s (hopefully) final installment in the Scream series…

SCREAM 4 (2011)
Director: Wes Craven
Stars: Neve Campbell, Emma Roberts, David Arquette, Courtney Cox, Hayden Panettierre, Rory Culkin
Country: United States

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It’s been fifteen years since the first Woodsboro Massacre, and oh look, Sidney Prescott (Campbell) is back again, this time to promote her new self-help book. How convenient! Gale Weathers (Cox) and long-suffering sheriff Dewey Riley (Arquette) are also still around town, and Gale’s been suffering from writer’s block…the kind that makes you want to just stab someone. Sidney’s cousin Jill (Roberts) is suffering some emotional turmoil with her cheating boyfriend Trevor (Nico Tortorella), who likes to follow her around town, break into her bedroom at night, and incessantly call her, which is mighty suspicious. So when two girls turn up slaughtered – just like in the Stab movies (based on the original murders in the first Scream) – the night before Sidney rolls into town, everyone and anyone could be a suspect.

When Wes Craven brought Scream to theaters in 1996, he turned the slasher film on its ear by giving us a cast of teenagers who knew their horror films, enough to know the rules of slasher films and thus how to try and bend them. You know these rules by now: if you want to survive, don’t have sex, don’t drink or do drugs, and for god’s sake, don’t tell anyone that “you’ll be right back” before you leave a room. The subsequent Scream films set up their own rules, each pertaining to how horror sequels work, and in each film, the rules get bent and broken and referenced and joked about and subverted. Scream was one of the most memorable meta horror films, kicking off an onslaught of similar “in-joke” horrors, some better than others, but none quite up to par with Craven’s work. The first two Scream sequels were good, but seemed to drop in quality with each one. They also started to kind of chew themselves apart with the whole meta premise. Eventually, it seems that postmodernism will become the snake that eats its own tail, except it maybe will succeed in eating the rest of the body, too.

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Not yet, however; Scream 4 takes the meta aspect of the previous three films and adds a whole new layer of meta, pointing out that at this juncture, the killer would be making his own films of the murders. So now we have murders that have been made into movies, that are being shown within THIS movie (a Stab marathon party – which lays itself wide open when there’s a killer on the loose), and now the murderer is making movies of their murders within the film, which will probably be made into another movie within a movie within a movie. I think I got that right. It’s all so heady, but not entirely excessive, particularly in this day and age where everything gets filmed and put online, regardless of content. I mean, think of some of the sick shit that gets put on the internet. It’s disturbing, and yet, we tune in IN DROVES. If anyone can make a jab at that, Wes Craven seems to be the guy to do it. He’s been doing postmodern meta horror since, what, 1994, when he did New Nightmare? Anyhow.

Scream 4 doesn’t waste much time in setting up all sorts of suspects, and by the time we get to the ending (I’m keeping this review as spoiler-free as possible) and the killer’s reasoning behind it all, we’re dealing with a whole new layer of commentary, and one that’s delightfully pointed at the cult of celebrity that’s so commonplace these days. The ending sealed the deal for me on this being the best Scream film since the first one. That, and the fact that Craven, with writer Kevin Williamson, had the damn good sense to have a kickass female character who really knows her horror films. I still think Craven is at his best when he’s pointing his lens at the underside of society and youth culture. This is true for Last House on the Left, the first and seventh Nightmare on Elm Street films, and the Scream series. I just wish his films were more consistently GOOD. It’s frustrating when a director shines only occasionally. Get it together, Wes!

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Anyhow, I’d planned to watch all four of the Scream films in a marathon, but with Scream 4 expiring from Netflix early in the month (really, guys?!), I had to shift that plan all around, and I haven’t gotten back to one through three yet. I’m hoping to get to them by month end, but the same issue that comes up every October is happening again – too many films, and too many good recommendations from trusted friends, wind up on the list. Not to mention that whole thing where I go hunting for one DVD from the collection, only to pull five or six more to add to the pile. Oh, the horror!

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OHMC tally:

18 first time views
4 repeat views

22 total films watched

And once again, over at Dreams in the Bitch House, there’s a slew of mini-reviews from week two of the Challenge! Enjoy!

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