Wes Craven: The Scream Years Part 8 – Scream (2010)
As I rounded out the final retrospective, looking back on Wes Craven’s latter movies, which I have dubbed ‘The Scream Years’, I had a moment where I thought that I had criminally missed out on watching what was then the last instalment of the Scream franchise, Scream 4.
I admitted as much to a friend online, as the film unfolded, only to realise that I had seen it, and my recollection came flooding back.
So why this absence of memory, regarding the movie?
Was it so bad that I had blocked it from my mind?
Or had the franchise run the gauntlet and exhausted any further possibilities to keep Ghostface and his multiple personalities to haunt Sidney Prescott and those who survived the original Woodsboro Murders?
The recent outing Scream (2022) would suggest otherwise.
For Scream 4, Craven would once again reunite with writer Kevin Williamson, suggesting that the old formula was still ripe for the making. Set fifteen years after the initial murders, the premise was to look at the impact that this had on the wider circle of friends and family, including Sidney’s cousin Jill (Emma Roberts). When a double murder occurs once more involving high school students in Woodsboro, Sidney becomes prime suspect (laughably) as a way to promote her new book. She is forced to stay until the murders are solved, but when Jill gets a threatening phone call from Ol’ Ghostface himself, things start to heat up again and the body count starts to pile up.
Meanwhile, Dewey (David Arquette), who is now the town sheriff tries to restore order, but struggles to contain his wife Gail Weathers (Courtney Cox) from doing her usual undercover sleuthing.
There are the typical traits that we had now become accustomed to from the franchise with film geeks, Charlie (Rory Culkin) and Robbie (Erik Knudsen) who annually throw the Stabathon festival in Woodsboro; the ex-boyfriend of Jill, Trevor (Nico Tortorella); the snooty, highly opinionated character, Rebecca (Alison Brie) as Sidney’s publicist; and the best friend Kirby (Hayden Panettiere); and that’s not to mention some of the early cameos from the Stab movie series snippets including Anna Paquin and Kristen Bell among them.
As the sands sift through Sidney’s serial turmoil, and the audience weaves their way between numerous whodunnit style investigations, we’re left with a film that boasts some sharp dialogue and humour to match, plus some pretty decent kills that are delivered by the hands of a highly experienced craftsman in Craven. What it lacks though is any satisfactory scares as we’re swallowed up by some typical horror tropes; a surprise considering Craven had once re-invented the genre with the original movie. The final reveal also feels tired and weak considering the twists and turns we take to get there. Having said that, there are some elements that the impact of social media can have on people, which shows just how cutting edge and forward thinking Craven could be in his film-making; a testament to how fundamental and important he was for the horror genre.
- Saul Muerte