Scream 4 might’ve come a few years too late after the last installment, but I for one enjoyed it as Wes Craven and company were able to update the franchise for the 21st century. The original cast slips into their roles nicely while the new generation offer up a certain and needed freshness, though writer Williamson didn’t succumb to the horror sequel clichés (though there a few).
Genre(s): Horror, Suspense
Anchor Bay | R – 111 min. – $39.99 | October 4, 2011
Directed by: Wes Craven
Writer(s): Kevin Williamson (characters); Kevin Williamson (written by)
Cast: David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Anthony Anderson, Alison Brie, Adam Brody, Rory Culkin, Marielle Jaffe, Erik Knudsen
Theatrical Release Date: April 15, 2011
Features: Commentary, Featurettes, Deleted/Extended Scenes, Alternate Opening, Extended Ending, Gag Reel, DVD Copy, Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.35
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Disc Size: 33.6 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 3.75/5
After the debacle that was Scream 3 released in 2000, I was actually excited when I learned a fourth movie would be made. I hope it would at least atone for the flaws of its predecessor which became what the franchise was originally mocking. So Scream 4 (or Scre4m for the hipsters out there) was released in April to generally good reviews from both critics and audiences, but little fanfare at the box office taking in $38 million ($97 million worldwide). However, I enjoyed the hell out of it then and although it doesn’t quite hold off as well knowing who the killer is, I still liked the film and appreciate it exists to at least replace the third film.
After a clever commentary on the insanely numerous Saw sequels (with cameos by Kristen Bell and Anna Paquin), the movie opens with the return of Ghost Face killing two girls (AIMEE TEEGARDEN of “Friday Night Lights” and BRITTANY ROBERTSON of “Life Unexpected”) home alone for movie night and then begins to terrorize other girls in town including three BFF’s Kirby Reed (HAYDEN PANETIERRE), Olivia Morris (MARIELLE JAFFE) and Jill Roberts (EMMA ROBERTS), cousin of Sidney so you know she is prime target numero uno for the killer.
Scream 4 is 15 years after the events of the first film as we return to Woodsboro where Dewey Riley (DAVID ARQUETTE) is now the town’s chief, married to Gale Weathers (COURTNEY COX) whose dissatisfied with life as she tries to write her next non-“Stab” book. Meanwhile, Sidney Prescott (NEVE CAMPBELL) returns to town on the tail end of her self-help book tour when the chaos begins once again.
Now it’s up to our original trio of survivors, with the help of a young generation including movie geeks and “Stab” enthusiasts Charlie Walker (RORY CULKIN) and Robbie Mercer (ERIK KNUDSEN) as well as members of the Woodsboro PD (ANTHONY ANDERSON, ADAM BRODY, MARLEY SHELTON), to find the killer before he strikes again.
I will admit that Scream 4 has some issues with pacing, the kills do get a bit tired half-way through, but at the same time the suspense is solid, the acting more than adequate with the main cast actually looking like they cared what was going on, by comparison Campbell looked bored in Scream 3, even though it’s the typical run, scream (well, it is necessary given the title) and hide horror blueprint.
What I did enjoy about this entry – aside from the fact I now consider this to be the true conclusion to the franchise and let Scream 3 fade away from memory – is it maintains the fun and suspense-filled nature of the first two yet writer Kevin Williamson, along with Ehren Kruger who apparently did do some uncredited rewrites, gives the franchise a fresh twist and topical reason for the killer’s actions. The dialogue once again is sharp in the same vein as the first film (and elements of Scream 2, which I also loved) and while some might get either confused or annoyed with the film going “meta” on the viewers, I found it very funny and helped hold my interest in between the kills.
Now, in regards to the rest of the cast aside from Campbell, it seems David Arquette and Courtney Cox – who I believe separated not too long after filming completed – slink into their roles just fine with Arquette showing off some of that goofiness we know and mostly love from the previous films with a bit more maturity that it would be at least believable he would be the town’s sheriff. Similarly, Cox’s Gale character starts off subdued before getting her groove back once the killings start up as she talks down to a publicist (reminiscent to her interaction with the reporter in Scream 2).
** Spoilers, but not about the killer **
As far as the new generation, they’re pretty to look at and do at least are believable as high school students which was a stretch in the first film with a couple of the actors. Emma Roberts plays the primary victim well enough while Hayden Panettiere is fine as the new eye of Ghost Face’s desire’s best friend. I know many viewers suddenly became hair critics but I didn’t mind the short due especially since it wasn’t that distracting. The others, who admittedly are targets for Ghost Face but they’re kind of the who’s who of upcoming talents.
** End Spoilers **
In the end, Wes Craven at least brings back some of the magic that made the original Scream work and also let go of the horrid memories of the third film. I enjoyed seeing the original trio back together and along with some clever writing (props to Williamson and… yes, to Kruger as well since he apparently had a hand in this), Scream 4 is a solid entry into the series, though they certainly leave it open for more sequels.
Personally, even if there is a Scream 5 as has been proposed, I’ll leave the franchise with this version and ignore anything that comes afterward since I don’t have high hopes they’ll be any good (not to mention Williamson’s relationship with the studio and with Craven himself seems to have gone sour).
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.75/5
Feature Commentary – The track features Director Wes Craven and Stars Hayden Panettiere and Emma Roberts while Actress Neve Campbell makes a guest appearance about 15-minutes in via phone. This is an OK commentary with Craven providing some comments on the story or shots while the actresses chat up about working with one another on set. No doubt it could’ve been better but still, it’s not bad.
Deleted Scenes (26:02; HD) – There were several scenes cut for a variety of reasons, though none of them really stand out including alternate openings and endings. Luckily, there is an optional commentary with Craven explaining the scenes and why they were axed or replaced. In most cases, what we got in the theater was the best take, although I did like the crime scene aftermath…
Gag Reel (9:18; HD) is filled with on-set hijinx including the cast and crew scaring the crap out of each other.
The Making of Scream 4 (10:29; HD) – This is your typical EPK featurette containing interviews with cast and crew members talking about getting back together to make the sequel. If you want some expansive making-of, I guess we’ll have to wait for the “Still Screaming” documentary to be updated.
The release also contains a DVD Copy (retail version) and a Digital Copy download code.
Trailers – The Zombie Diaries 2, Children of the Corn: Genesis and the Scream Trilogy
VIDEO – 4.25/5
Scream 4 slashes its way onto Blu-ray with a sharp-looking 1080p high-def transfer. The picture, presented in its original 2.35 widescreen aspect ratio, looks great from deep darks in numerous scenes (a good portion takes place at night after all) while lighter shots as well as skin tones look spot on. The detail level is also great and I noticed no signs of pixilation or artifacting. Having seen this in theaters, I’d say this looks very close.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
The disc features a strong DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 that shows off the numerous scare moments as well as screams that, if you watch this in a regular family room with the windows open, people will probably call the police if you’re not careful. Anyway, even the quieter moments sound really good with the front and rear channels getting some use for ambient noises or dialogue.
OVERALL – 3.75/5
Scream 4 might’ve come a few years too late after the last installment, but I for one enjoyed it as Wes Craven and company were able to update the franchise for the 21st century. The original cast slips into their roles nicely while the new generation offer up a certain and needed freshness, though writer Williamson didn’t succumb to the horror sequel clichés. In terms of the Blu-ray, the audio and video transfers are good though the features have much to be desired.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
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