I was worried going into this that it having been forever since I'd seen the first three would have been an issue. It wasn't. As long as you have general knowledge on the first film and maybe a tad on the second, you're good. The movie picks up 10 years later as Sidney (Neve Campbell) comes back to Woodsboro on book tour just in time for the anniversary of the first string of killings. Gale (Courtney Cox) is now married to Sheriff Dewey (David Arquette)--and yes, they are slightly meta about it. She's slipped in popularity and wants to reinvent herself like Sidney has, but has writer's block. But then killings start again! We're introduced to a new generation of kids to target, including Sidney's cousin Jill (Emma Roberts), Jill's friend Kirby (Hayden Panettiere), and a couple horror movie fanatics named Charlie (Rory Culkin) and Robbie (Erik Knudsen). Marley Shelton, Anthony Anderson, and Adam Brody co-star as cops who help with the case. This time, there are new rules for a new generation--but what are they?

One of the first things that you'll realize going into this movie is that things look pretty familiar. The killings look like they'd been done before in the first movie. Well, that's not a fluke. While the first few movies played with certain tropes of horror films, this one plays with remakes and reboots. Now, if you don't like a little meta with your film, you're gonna hate this movie. But if you love meta, you'll love this. It's probably the winky-est of the series in regards to recent film culture.

I've heard that people have issue with the dialogue in the movie and how it's so unrealistic or how people don't talk like that. I'm gonna have to disagree... and with a sense of irony. Funnily enough, these two obnoxious guys behind me were actually having a near-verbatim conversation about reboots and remakes right before the movie started. That alone made putting up with them worth it... but not quite. (What really made it worth it is that they actually forced me to turn around and ask them to stop talking--something I never do--mere seconds before a scene where a character gets stabbed for never shutting up. Of course, that still didn't stop them.) Also, I've heard issues with how these teenagers reacted to the killings. From personal experience in current high school classrooms... I can tell you the movie wasn't all that far off. So no, I had no problems with realism. My realism issues stopped with the kid who walked around with a webcam on his head the entire movie. Once I got over that, nothing else bothered me in that regard.

The movie was very clever in its commentary of modern cinema. Then again, I really enjoy anything meta, so this whole thing was a hoot for me. I think one of the most interesting meta moments is near the beginning when they're talking about the Saw films--particularly Saw 4 and up--while the style of Scream 4 at that moment is being reminiscent of their conversations and things in said films. I don't want to give it away, but if you've not seen the latter Saw films, the full depth of the meta-ness will probably be lost on you. You'll still get what they're doing, though. But it's a fun opening that really plays with your perceptions.

And speaking of perceptions, the movie actually surprised me in regards to big reveal. Every time I thought I had a suspect, the suspect was killed off. There are plenty of red herrings to keep you guessing. And the rationale behind the killings this time around was what really sold it for me. I thought it was a brilliant move on Wes Craven's part--a great way to tie the whole idea and themes of the movie together.

If one thing bothered me about the movie, it was the acting. It's... not that great. About a third of the cast seems like they're phoning it in. Another third just struggles with the whole concept of acting. And the last third consists of David Arquette. I'll leave that up to interpretation. The best performances of the film were, surprisingly, Courtney Cox and Hayden Panettiere. Both play "tough girls" with mouths on 'em. Courtney brings a lot of refreshing spunk to Gale. And Hayden as Kirby is an incredibly knowledgeable movie nerd. And while I don't necessarily agree with the following review, Anomalous Material's review of the film said it best in regards to her character: she's "the nerd’s wet dream without dressing like one, the one who can out-trivia the boys. When the Ghostface asks her a trivia question, she throws in Piranha. She knows how to slip in the nuances of humor and fear at the same time and she deservedly steals the show."

Overall, it's not a perfect film, but it's one heck of a fun one. The meta humor is excellent, though I can see where it can grate on you if you don't like that kind of thing. It's essentially what Scream 3 should have been. It's not as good as the first film, but it's definitely up there. If you're a fan of the series, you can't miss this one. Fun writing, thrilling moments, funny scenes, and a Shaun of the Dead reference. You can never go wrong with that.

A Keanu 'Whoa'


  1. Quite agreed on Kirby and the killer reveal. Especially the reveal after the Kirby/Charlie scene. Um, COOL! Excellent review, mate.

  2. This is probably the second best Scream film. It's still got some missteps, I think a lot of the ideas about what makes this killer different are underdeveloped.

    Also, I thought the film missed out on addressing all the Saw/Hostel films, but maybe it did as I'll admit I actually haven't seen 90% of the films from that cycle of horror.


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