09 May 2011


Twelve Things about Scream 4

12. I was very nervous going into the cinema. A friend of mine likes to argue that there is no way the fourth movie in any franchise is going to be good. The first movie is always the best, he says; the second can live up to it, and on rare occasions be even better; the third won't be able to do either; and the fourth will simply suck.

And now that I have seen Scream 4, I want to ring him up and say that he has officially been pwned! For this is one of the best, most intelligent Horror movies I have ever seen. Thank you, Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

11. It might be a bad idea to start the Twelve Things with the most important Thing, but my decision to do so anyway shows you how inspired I was by this movie's superlative opening sequence. It doesn't quite top the classic "purity" of its counterpart from the first film; but it is head and shoulders above that of the third and went where the second never dared to step. The suspense coefficient was off the charts, but even then, I didn't see the real genius of it until I was trying to explain it to someone else, and found myself saying:

"I had no idea what was really happening and what was just a movie!!!"

Oh . . . =P

10. Drawing back on the meta stuff for now . . . I love the realism of our old characters in this "new decade"--something we didn't have in the previous installment of the franchise, due partly to all the "tinsel" you need for trimming a Hollywood setting and partly to the fact that Williamson didn't write the script. Dewey, no longer "oozing incompetence," has become Sheriff of Woodsboro, and seems to be in his element as a big fish in a small town. Gale, on the other hand, really misses her old, exciting life as a muckraking reporter. Their marriage becomes a unique frame through which to watch the main story unfold.

(Anyone notice that I am no longer referring to Dewey and Gale as "the Timon and Pumbaa of the Scream franchise"?)

9. As for Sidney, one of the top Final Girls of all time . . . She finally seems to have found her ideal role: having dabbled in Theatre in uni and been underemployed as a crisis counselor for a year or two, she has totally reinvented herself as a Self-help writer.

I can't say I'm crazy about that. =P I just don't read Self-help, you know? But it makes beautiful sense that someone who has been written into the Horror scripts (literal or otherwise) of so many psychos would decide that what she needs to do is to rewrite her own role. (Talk about the perfect answer to last decade's taunt that "you can't pick your genre!")

8. There are, of course, quite a few characters who are here just to be fodder. To quote one of them, with an edit for spoilers: "It sucks to be a ______ in a movie!"

It makes me wonder about the survival rates of teachers/tutors. ;-)

7. I've suddenly noticed that I've been writing about characters more than about actors. As far as I'm concerned, Neve, David and Courtney are Sidney, Dewey and Gale. But my saying so is less a testament to their acting than to my great love for the first generation of Scream. I had to catch up to Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street, and I'm still catching up with Halloween . . . but Scream is my generation's Slasher franchise, with characters I've nurtured a real emotional connection to--and it felt so right to be watching it on the big screen last week.

6. So the second generation probably won't win me over until they do their own share of aging.

Emma Roberts plays Sidney's young cousin Jill. What I first saw as her flaws turned out to be integral to her character--and it still floors me . . . Hayden Panettiere is great as Jill's snarky friend; and yet I couldn't stop thinking that she looked like somebody's mom . . . Rory Culkin is wonderfully inoffensive as one of the film geeks running the school's Cinema Club. It took me a while before it occurred to me that he had the look of a Culkin kid . . . I don't know the names of the actors who played Robbie and Trevor, but I liked one and disliked the other . . . I can't identify the actress who plays the (supposedly) hottest girl in school--and don't even recall her character's name--and that's about all I have to say about her.

The young are so wasted on me.
(Can you tell which ones die and which ones live?)

5. Back to characters now. Deputy Judy Hicks is an interesting combination of the old and the new. She is from the first generation--one of Sidney's high school classmates--but we never saw her in any movie and even Sidney can't remember her at all. It's not very nice to have "second generation" status when you're actually a veteran, is it?

4. Now, what's with the Cinema Club ("Audio-Visual Club"?) being "one rung below the Glee club"? Is that a nod to a certain gawd-awful TV Musical Dramedy?

And for the record, I'd rather be with these geeks than with those gleeks.

3. I never thought I'd say this, but . . . with this fourth Scream movie, Wes Craven has outdone the entire Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. Sorry, Freddy, but this "Screamake" beats your "Reboot." Not one, but two generations have spoken.

2. And that brings me to the concept of Morality Play Overkill. How many Horror movies are too many?

While I will be among the first to say that Horror is both the most moral and the most realistic genre there is, I don't know if I can say the same of Horror fans. I certainly don't have much confidence in the teenagers who gather for the Stab-athon, ready to see all seven Stab movies back-to-back. In the light of the fact that actual murders have just taken place, that party is both callous and irresponsible. It's also a damning satire.

Now I ask all Scream fans who are reading this: How many of you did marathons or hosted other special viewings of the first three Scream films, leading up to the release of Scream 4? Did you dress up as any of the characters? Decorate the place with Ghostface masks? Recite virtually the entire script along with the actors? See yourself in that Stab-athon audience when you were sitting in the Scream 4 audience?

There is no repeat of the previous advocatus diaboli attempts to put Horror movies, Horror fans, Horror audiences, or even Horror filmmakers in the dock for real-life killings (and only a half-hearted attempt to do the same for Horror bloggers--LOL!). But the fourth film insists that although we're not culpable, we're also far from classy. (Ouch.)

1. And in case you didn't believe me the first time I said that this is a great movie . . .

I did not miss Randy at all! Not even when he was mentioned by name. And that means something.

Image Source: Scream 4 poster


Syrin said...

Do you think I need to rent 2 & 3 before seeing 4? I am so behind on all the horror franchises. But everything I've read suggests this is a must see film for any horror fan.

Enbrethiliel said...


I agree that it is a must-see!

If you haven't seen the second and third movies yet, then I do recommend that you rent them. The Scream movies take an unusually intellectual approach to Horror, and when Craven and Williamson talk about topping the previous movies, they don't just mean in terms of gore or the body count, but in terms of theme. I really believe it will be more satisfying for you if you can trace the development of ideas--not to mention the development of characters--from the first movie.

(Now, my Second Thing on this list happens to address the concept of Scream marathons done in anticipation of this fourth film. Now that I've recommended you do a little of the same, I'm feeling oddly meta. But given the nature of this franchise, I'm kind of happy about that.)

Syrin said...

Ha! And considering that I should probably watch the first one all over again too for good measure, it will have to be a full blown marathon!

The Mike said...

I think I did the right thing by watching 1-3 in reverse before seeing 4. I might have been very tired of them all by the time I saw 4 on Friday, but working from my least favorite through the original really rejuvenated my love for these films.

And yeah, Sidney has certainly found her niche. It's annoying at first, but the final act turn is fan-freakin'-tastic.

The mom thing might be true, but I was absolutely floored by Hayden Panetierre. One of the most fist-pump inducing scenes - of many - for me was when the film geeks look at her shelf of DVDs, note that she has "some real classics" - real being the operative word - and suddenly seem to view her differently. In this new world of horror fans - especially considering those who write on the genre - this testament to the will of female horror fans (don't forget, females spent the first three movies saying things like "you know I don't watch that shit" and belittling the genre) is perhaps the best step up to today's horror verse in the film.

And that Rear Window-esque moment full of more gore than the first three films combined? THAT was a game changer as well.

So yeah, I admired the heck out of this one.

(BTW, the comment eating demon just tried to steal this post AGAIN!...I was ready this time. You can't fool a good horror fan twice!)

Hey! Look Behind You! said...

Great list!

I'm glad that you were the many few people that enjoyed it and understood it for everything it was trying to be all while being faithful to the series and to the horror genre today.

I need to make time to see it again haha.

Kate said...

Ug, I really want to see this but don't think I've even seen the third one yet and I hardly remember the second. I really should, though. I'm also the generation that came up with Scream as my horror franchise (maybe a bit on the late side if I've never seen the third?) and still think the original is one of freshest, most postmodern take on a genre that I've experienced. Hopefully I can find these at the library.

Enbrethiliel said...


Syrin -- If we were discussing any other movie, I'd encourage you to make a party of it and invite your friends . . . but given that my Second Thing already has a sting in its tail for everyone who has done a marathon, I'll shut up now! =P

The Mike -- Interesting change of order! And I can tell exactly which other franchise I'd like to do the same for: Terminator. That's because while the original is my favourite, I've liked each sequel that came out less and less. So only watching the first Terminator again would really get me pumped for a fifth movie . . . but I imagine I'd just want to get drunk at the end of it, the way I did after Terminator: Salvation. =P

That's a great point about Kirby! Being a super-hot, Horror-lovin' chick myself, I should have picked up on it more quickly. ;-) If they make a fifth movie and let her character survive, we won't need yet another reboot of Randy to guide the way. She could do it all by herself and be far savvier because of her own Horror experience.

Nicki -- Thanks! I hope you find the time to see this again. It's always great to watch a mystery again knowing who the murderer is and seeing if you pick up the hints the second time around!

Kate -- No shame in having to catch up! =) I myself didn't watch Scream 3 until last year. (I decided to watch the first movie again at around the same time . . . and oh, was I impressed that its freshness, originality, intelligence, and yes, scares had stood the test of time!)

Jillian said...

I really wanted to see because everyone keeps saying it was actually really good! I didn't catch it in theaters though. Anyway, I'll just wait for it when it comes out on DVD. The movies are too expensive for me anyway nowadays.

Enbrethiliel said...


Oh, I hear you about the expense! I think I watch only two or three movies in the cinema each year, although I'd love to see more. And I hardly ever even spring for the DVDs, either. We have several movie channels at home, so I can usually bet on eventually catching the big blockbusters on one of them.

But for what it's worth, your sources are right: Scream 4 is really, really good! =D

mge said...

I had my own Screamathon before going to the cinema. I love the series and I almost forced them into watching the first three films in a rally.

I'll never forget that wonderful experience I shared with my friends. We're all part of the #ScreamTeam now.

Enbrethiliel said...


I had watched the first three again in anticipation of this fourth installment, but not all together and not as part of a big plan. But that's because I don't have any Horror-loving friends in real life who'd do a big, indulgent Scream-athon with me. =(

Your own little ScreamTeam is very lucky to have you!

mge said...

You should check my blog this April if you are looking forward to being part of a Scramathon ;)

This is a secret so don't tell anyone!

Enbrethiliel said...


Oh, I will definitely do that! =D Thanks for the invitation--and yes, I will keep it a secret. ;-)