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Scream 4 (2011)
I REALLY wanted to love this film...
SPOILERS: As a die-hard fan of the Scream franchise, I couldn't wait to see what Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven had in store for the fourth installment. But after watching, the film left me disappointed in a quite a few areas.
Although the Scream films have always been a semi-parody of themselves and of all horror films, the first three also managed to be "real" in their own world (i.e. the characters are not only upset when people die, they also actually fear for their own lives). A few of the death scenes in this film seem like they're coming straight out of a "Scary Movie" sequel (particularly the character played by Anthony Anderson, who ironically starred in Scary Movie 3 and 4). And when people start to die in this film, no one seems particularly upset about it. If they aren't upset, why should we be?
Also, the "whodunnit" aspect of all the other Scream films seems to be mostly absent in this installment. Gale halfway attempts an investigation but it quickly goes nowhere, and most of the film seems to be either teenagers sitting around waiting to be killed, or teenagers actually being killed. The reveal of the killer is pretty shocking, but it's mostly shocking because we haven't seen anyone really trying to find out who the killer is at any point in the movie, and the characters haven't been developed enough for anyone to gain many clues either way. Dewey pretty much just hops around from one crime scene to the next and, until the last five minutes, is pretty useless (as is Gale).
The film sort of taints the closure that we received in Scream 3: Sidney has finally been set free from her demons and can move on (and even Randy's video message in Scream 3 states that this was a trilogy, not just the second of an endless number of sequels). Although this film is much more respectful to its predecessors than, say, Halloween Resurrection (which essentially takes the finality of H20 and pisses all over it), I found myself wondering, when will it end for this group (now that we know the characters survive)? Can they really handle any more sequels (or more importantly, can we)?
Having said that, there were some very positive aspects to the film. The opening scene was quite clever (although by the time you get to the "real" scene, the characters are so paper thin that you're pretty much rooting for the killer to just do his thing already). I also really enjoyed the idea behind the killer's motives, and what it says about modern day fame. All in all, it's a fun ride; and, of course, Sidney's "Gotcha, suckas!" line at the end (pardon the Bowfinger reference) is epic.
I suppose no sequel will live up to the suspense and originality of the first film, but this is definitely worth watching.