Many years ago, a writer (Kevin Williamson) and a director (Wes Craven) teamed up to reclaim the flailing horror genre and once again make it original. They did this with a little film called Scream. Of course, not content to leave it at just one... Scream spawned 2 sequels, neither of which lived up to the original. Now, nearly 11 years later we are treated to a 4th film in the series. In an age where Hollywood is recycling everything it can get its hands on and rebooting everything else, it comes as no surprise to see Scream 4 take aim directly at those responsible, within minutes of the opening scene the film takes a shot at the constant gimmickry of modern horror films, only it would be much funnier had Wes Craven not been responsible for some of the dribble that has come out over the last few years (Cursed, My Soul to Take, Pulse) and even more so if his own film didn't then rely on the exact same formula.
Which brings me to my biggest issue with Scream 4. It had the potential to once again show the industry how good horror films can be, and whilst it certainly isn't bad, it does stick to many of the horror cliches that annoy and detract. Take the fact that ghost face is the master of the old re-appear/disappear trick, something that just got worse as the series progressed. In this film he disappears in front of 2 cops in a matter of seconds and I would love to know where to get a pair of shoes as quiet as those... You also have the old single woman walks into a badly lit parking lot to find her car won't start and a killer on her bonnet that magically disappears and yet she still gets out of the car to run to who knows where deal! Seriously, the first film was all about changing the cliches and playing on them, this one just seem formulaic. (Insert loud scary red herring score here)
Again the focus of the series stays with Sydney (Neve Campbell) as she returns to her home town on the anniversary of the first killing to promote her newly published autobiography. The night she arrives a double murder has taken place and former deputy now sheriff Dewey (David Arquette) is on the case. It soon becomes apparent that the old town of Woodsboro is again under siege by ghostface and that no one is safe.
Wes Craven is a great director, he has made some of my favourite horror films to date, but Scream 4 seems like a bit of a phone in for him. It is certainly the best film he has made since Red Eye, but I was honestly expecting more. The acting is fine although the characters are a little shallow (they get over the grief of seeing their friends slashed to pieces in front of them rather quickly), the score by Marco Beltrami is the usual fanfare of ominous bang and clash, Kevin Williamson's dialog is witty and consistent with his previous efforts. On the whole the film is a worthy sequel to the original and is certainly better than the previous installments. It is just a shame that it wasn't as good as it could have been.