SEAT AT THE BACK - SCRIBBLES! ~ It's that time of year again: THE RAINDANCE FILM FESTIVAL in London! On now.. See you there!

Monday, 12 December 2011

SCREAM 4 on DVD, aka: 'SCRE4M' - A hastily written scrawled review in the terrifying darkness of leafy suburbia.

SCREAM 4/ 'SCRE4M' ~ A night in with the all new Ghostface!
*Some spoilers in a scary ghost mask may wait below - watch before reading*

SCREAM 4 is a real good time horror movie from master of the craft and Scream franchise head honcho Wes Craven, who directs again here with gritty wit and polish - a perfect popcorn movie with enough crunch to crack the odd  teenage tooth in a reasonably, 15-rated, revolting way!

The classic spook film references were a bit obvious but the Shaun of the Dead inclusion was a nicely unexpected addition to the more obvious Psycho/ Peeping Tom/ Suspiria/ Texas Chainsaw references throughout that many modern horror films snatch in the face of post-modern tease.

The opening sequence of 'films within other films' (a smart, greedy notch up from the more familiar 'film within a film' template that perhaps worked its best magic in John Landis's 'An American Werewolf in London' where a porn movie - also shot by Landis - played in a Soho cinema as the zombie/ lycopathic audience haunt the aisles) was a little prolonged, but cleverly done - and I jumped at least once in this sequence; Anna Paquin I love you! Nice as well to see the safety mechanism actually work this time on the garage door, after it didn't in the original.

The script of this latest Scream-fest from original movie-scribe Kevin Williamson was clever and nicely self-indulgent - although it's thought the script was tweaked by Scream 3 writer Ehren Kruger at the last breath. It was good to see all the original cast back too. The only horror movie franchise where all the main surviving cast members have returned in every sequel, I believe. To be honest, they could have appeared in a remake of a Scooby Doo episode and I'd probably still be cheering - it's a bit like any old Laurel and Hardy movie being great, even if it's a bad one, just because it's Laurel and Hardy.

I'm easy to please when it comes to favourite movies and returning favourite characters. I even raved about Psycho 3 and matched it on a level with the original. I'm probably the exact kind of fan the Scream movies are laughing at in a post-modern way, although I laugh in the face of post-modernism with a self-referential smirk. Best of all, Neve Campbell is back (..back ..BACK!) as Sidney in this long-awaited return to the film franchise that cast her in fright film iconicness forever - she looked suitably bemused and resigned to bad things happening throughout the film; probably much like she is equally resigned to being remembered for this role for ever more when the cameras stop filming as well.

Sidney has a look of unkempt emotion etched on her face; like she's smelt a bad smell or about to burst into tears because she knows pretty soon, the glint of steel will reflect in those big sad eyes of hers. She'll never escape this role that made her name, just like she'll never escape the threatening blade of Ghostface in the Scream franchise. It's such a good role, maybe it doesn't matter that Neve Campbell is trapped inside it. Although I've seen Campbell in some great low budget movies that pretty much went unnoticed by the mainstream. She's no slacker in the acting stakes. 


David Arquette is also back as Dewey, and came across as likeable and, well - stupid, as ever. By the end of this movie he must have had one hell of a headache the number of times he gets knocked around and whacked on the head - ouch indeed!

Courtney Cox I though was just ok here (but not as much fun as she was - or seemed to have - in previous Screams) as Gale Weathers (nee Riley), but the marriage problems with Dewey we get this time around were a bit forced, although strangely 'car-crash' to watch, mirroring her personal life with David Arquette off set. Cox looks odd here too - almost as if shot in soft focus throughout; or is there a tad too much plastic on her these days (and I don't mean in her purse).

Still, it was fun seeing the old gang back together. Two new stars in this movie were outstanding: I loved Emma Roberts as black-haired, wide-eyed cousin Jill. Keeping it in the family way of being terrorised by Ghostface. Was the famous masked killer always called 'Ghostface'? I never noticed this in the first 3 movies. The name comes up all the time here. I don't like it much. 'Ghostface' is a slightly underwhelming name for an iconic movie killer.

I also thought Marley Shelton as cropped-haired Deputy Judy Hicks with the hots for Dewey and the bake-a-cake seduction technique, was just perfect in her role - quirky and cool and I so, so want her to return in Scream 5, of which director Wes Craven has stated there will be one made, and - depending on the script - maybe directed by him again as well. In fact, I just want Deputy Hicks back so she can be partnered with Dewey in any movie. Judy and Dewey would be a great cop buddy team. Of course, she could be dead by the end of Scream 4. Or she could have been the killer. The great thing about this movie - the film plays with expectations. Reviewers should do the same. I didn't guess the ending. The ending was a shocker in more ways than just the reveal; it was pretty nasty, and the tagged-on double ending, was perfect.

The film did drag at times with too much running around corridors and up and down stairs from yet another Ghostface 'jump out at ya and run' setpiece. But for a film where pretty much everyone gets stabbed at one point or another (and no cast member is ever safe) - at least you get what it says on the box. I didn't scream, but I really did jump, lots of times, laughed, got the Peeping Tom reference, didn't guess the ending but went through about 5 members of the cast who I thought were the killer but ended up dead, so plainly weren't - and had a movie made great for me by an oddball Sheriff's deputy named Hicks (sorry, here I go again!).

Sidney's younger cousin Jill is maybe one of the best new young characters in a horror movie in recent years. Emma Roberts's role is on a level with the night-walking Oskar and Eli (Let the Right One In), the 'boosting the old franchise' Jamie Lloyd (Halloween 4 and 5) or even Tommy Jarvis (Friday the 13th:The Final Chapter) - a showstopping performance that rivals the return of Sidney, and perhaps eclipses it and rebloods the franchise. I'm looking forward to Emma's next movie Adult World (2012). The last time I thought a new heroine in a horror movie cast a lovespell on me was Jennifer Love Hewitt in I Still Know What You Did Last Summer and before her - Jessica Harper in Suspiria. What more can a 4th movie in a franchise do to be loved than do this to a fan?

words: mark gordon palmer


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