Scream 4

Indistinct Ghostface


15 April 2011| No Comments on Scream 4     by Sean Chavel


Excess number of knife slashings and even self-mutilations, but goosey satiric humor eases the mood – making self-referential fun of not only sequels but reboots. Wes Craven’s Scream 4 opens with the prototypical menacing phone call set-up but done in new variations. Ghostface asks as usual, “What’s your favorite scary movie?” Then he tells the person on the receiver that he will be the last person you ever see. Throw in some macabre humor. “You didn’t see that one coming, did you?” a question that is directed at the audience. Variations on this ongoing motif can only take you so far.

Neve Campbell returns as Sidney Prescott, now a famed author of a book that recounts surviving the Woodsboro murders. She is back in her hometown promoting the book when there is a new murder outbreak. Courtney Cox as the nosy but incisive reporter Gale Weathers and David Arquette as the interminably inept Sheriff Dewey Riley are back. The rest of the cast is young and large enough to instigate a guessing game of who’s the murdering mastermind behind it all. All this meets expectations of a good “Scream” movie – that is if you are an intransigent fan of the series – but with all the staples in place it now plugs away as a routine.

Among the potential victims / suspects are Kristen Bell, Alison Brie, Marielle Jaffe, Mary McDonnell, Hayden Panettiere, Anna Paquin, Emma Roberts, Marley Shelton, Nico Tortorella, and Erik Knudsen and Rory Culkin as two film geeks / video bloggers, and lastly, Adam Brody and Anthony Anderson as two cops always late on the scene. Scariest haircut: Panettiere in a Sonic the Hedgehog ’do. Scariest death: I won’t tell you.

Formula of the reboot requires that it must out-do the original from fifteen years ago while being faithful to its novel contents. What’s changed over the years is Sidney who is now such a veteran that she’s got taekwondo and some other self-defense martial arts mastered. What Sidney and Gale have in common is the unwillingness to listen to authority and chase after leads themselves. What Sidney has in common with Woodsboro is her family she feels obligated to. What “Scream 4” has in common with topicality are riffs on webcam broadcasts, digitized photo doctoring, “Reno 911,” “Top Chef,” Robert Rodriguez, and Facebook stalkers.

Imagination is peak when “Scream 4” appertains spoofing on the “Stab” series in which there are now seven of them, with debatable discussions in how they compare to the “Saw” series (everybody in this movie thinks those are lame). The “Stab” series are the movies within the “Scream” movies, unauthorized horror movies inspired by the legend of the original Woodsboro killings. We’re talking “meta” here – this is a sly larky reference on movies insides movies. Just as “meta” could be applied to the dreams inside dreams of “Inception.”

However, the whole Ghostface masks and slash ’em constituents come off as tropes at this point. “The unexpected is the new cliché,” a chief film geek muses. What Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson do pull off to their credit is a less than predictable, deliciously unveiling climax.

But this is all plain-face at this point now that the new wave of horror is distinct and defined by the “Paranormal” movies, “Slither,” “The Descent,” the Korean films “The Chaser” and “I Saw the Devil,” the mirrored companions “Funny Games” and “The Strangers,” the apex disgusting perversity of Tom Six, as well as the current “Insidious” which is so hyper-demented it ought to be everybody’s new favorite scary movie.

103 Minutes. Rated R.


Film Cousins: “Scream” (1996); “Scream 2 (1997); “Scream 3” (2000); “Scary Movie” (2000).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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