Saturday, 16 April 2011

REVIEW: Scream 4

Also I actually kind of thought Hayden Panettiere was quite good in this movie. I'll let myself out.

I think what I love about the original Scream is that to the untrained eye, it can play as a straight horror movie. The thing about most spoofs is they often end up in a goofy, loose alternate reality innately separate from the movies they mock. They very much let you know the whole thing is a skit. Even films such as Airplane or Top Secret, you know 'the good ones' ramp up the wacky so the audience can be in no doubt they're watching a SPOOF. Scream didn't do that. Every inch of it is a commentary on the slasher genre, yet it still very much took place in that world. Perhaps because it was so in awe of the movies it paid homage to, it wanted to be one as well as a meta-comedy about genre convention. And for me it succeeded on both counts, and is simultaneously one of th best slasher films and by far the most eloquent and informed spoof of them all.

But then it made money. And so must come the inevitable. First came two, increasingly ridiculous sequels. Both had their moments but are bad more then good, and I think the thing that hurts them more then anything is writer Kevin Williamson (creator of Dawson's Creek and The Vampire Diaries, for those who like their illusions crushed) increasing meta-contempt of the material. Characters would always be commenting about how implausible a twist was, or how sequels are and always will be cash-ins inferior to the original. Of course he's right, but the level of meta became overbearing and suffocating. Which of course is the natural evolution of meta-humor, it often ends up having nowhere left to go but comment on itself, to ever diminishing returns. With Scream 4, that meta-contempt is the most prevalent thing in the movie. Everything in it exists to point how shit everything is, or to comment on people commenting on how shit things in movies within movies are. The sort of clever opening, which plays as a movie within a movie within a movie, is this in a nutshell, pointing out the higher the number of the sequel, the more pointless and arbitrary everything is.

But removed from all that increasingly wearisome shit, Scream 4 is not an embarrassment. Its certainly not great, but its probably the best Scream sequel even with its RIDICULOUS ending reveal, something that I kind of liked in theory, but the actor/actress asked to carry it was so not up to the traditional Williamson 'bad guys be monologuing' scene that it just fell flat. Really flat.And then it kept going and going. Of course the characters kept commenting about how anti-climactic it was, and how ridiculous it was, but knowing you're shit isn't an excuse to be shit, Williamson, and that mixture of insight and energy from the first film is just nowhere to be found. I kind of wish that it had just forgone its returning cast altogether, and gone all the way with its faux 'remake' premise. Because Neve Campbell looks bored, Courteney Cox is hammy and David Arquette, well he's just fucking shit. As he has always been. I think if it had just focused on a new generation of teens, it may have felt a bit more organic. From the many actors here, I think I'm supposed to say Alison Brie steals it, which she probably does from everyone but Adam Brody, who in his one scene discussing the suckiness about being the cop who guards the house in movies, adds being the MVP for another mediocre horror movie to is resume. This guy needs a TV show, because his awesomeness is being wasted.

Overall, the film is what it says it is. A relatively pointless cash-in on a great films success, one that was revolutionary and changed the game and all that shit, and has become a franchise like all the other ones in that it just continues to exist to make some money. I look forward to the reboot.

Rating: 5/10

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