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Movie Review: Scream 4

<p>A succesful shriek-quel!</p>
by Gelo Gonzales | May 5, 2011
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The scene: An eerie suburban household. The players: Two hot girls preparing to watch a scary movie as they converse about the trivial sates of their lives. The catch: A mysterious stranger calls, stalking them on the phone, promising to spill their blood. [firstpara]

Yes, you know what’s about to happen next. Or you think you do.

As the cheeky adolescents onscreen are about to get gutted before you, the camera pans back, revealing two equally hot blondes in the form of Anna Paquin and Kristen Bell, watching a DVD of Stab 6 (the horror movie franchise within the film).

They then start to dissect the movie before them. One calls it shit, analyzing the predictability of it all while citing horror movie references. The other blonde defends the genre praising its postmodernist take on the slasher film as genius.

The debate gets heated and out of nowhere Kristen Bell pulls out a knife, stabs Anna Paquin at the stomach. As she morbidly pukes blood, the TV turns off. It's just another set of supple teenagers in the sleepy town of Woodsboro watching Stab 5. This is where the real bloodbath begins.

If it sounds confusing, it might be for a while, but the pseudo-complex nature of it all draws out well pretty easily. The whole movie within a movie within a movie introduction is just the film’s way of weaning you into the meta-madness that the Scream franchise has evolved into.

It’s been ten years since the last murders that plagued the life of everyone’s favorite little victim, Sidney Prescott (played by Neve Campbell who is looking pretty tight). She has overcome the poisonous well that is her past and with the help of a book she has written, picked up the pieces of what little of a life she has left.

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Her book tour takes her home to Woodsboro, the town where it all began, on the anniversary of the very first murders. Gail Weathers and Dewey Riley (real life divorced couple Cortney Cox and David Arquette) are now married and residing in Woodsboro where Dewey is now the Sheriff and Gail is struggling to write. The happy “hellos” don’t last long because Ghostface is lurking in the shadows, ready for a 2011 reboot bloodbath.

Aside from the mainstay cast, who are now very much older than their ingénue days, are the fresh-faced batch of Woodsboro teens ready for the killing. Lets face it, its more entertaining to watch young, attractive people get sliced and diced than a bunch of old-timers.

There’s Sidney’s sassy cousin Jill (Emma Roberts) and the classic-horror-loving Kirby (Hayden Panettiere in a really funny and convincing role) and then of course there’s the mysterious boyfriend, the pair of movie geeks and a few more lace-bra wearing honeys who you really don’t need to get to know.

If you are a fan of the series, you’ll soon realize that most of the characters in the movie are archetypes of the first films, only they’re all on Facebook and own iPhones. But justifiably so, you see in the realm of slasher flicks it’s the promiscuous, booze-drinking, drug-peddling lot that gets the axe and Scre4m is not forgiving. The kills in this one are brutal, revitalizing the fanaticism with gore that made the genre popular in the first place. We mean, really, how many times can you cut somebody up before it gets old? You’ve got to find new ways to present the blood and guts to a more modern audience and the film doesn’t let down in this aspect.

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The movie weaves modern-day technology such as apps and the Internet into the plot because in the reboot, the killer’s got to outdo the original. In this aspect, the movie sometimes feels like a social commentary on youth culture. The information-ready youngins are so spoiled by the Internet, that everything has been reduced to a private-less, conscience-less society, desensitized by the fast-paced world they live in. As one of the one-liners in the film goes “Sick is the new sane.” We pray for the future of mankind.

The cinematography is successful in setting the mood for murder that you’ll be grasping to your movie seat, as you wait for the helpless lass to have her throat slit. The use of shadows as an instrument for horror is one that will never get old. And there’ll always be something about the sound of a sharp knife scraping human bones that remains unsettling.

The comedic side of the movie is equally successful as the suspense. The mood switch from tense chase scene to downtime funny moment is fluid. Kevin Williamson’s quick-witted dialogue is as bitchy as it’s ever been, never failing to pullout all the stops to poke and prod at contemporary pop-culture.

To call the film postmodern or metafiction (pardon the pretension, but it must be said) in this case, might be an understatement. Unlike the first few films where the awareness simply lied in the characters discussing the conventions of classic horror movies, Scre4m takes it up a notch by openly-discussing the philosophy behind the whole franchise, exposing its devices and ultimately turning itself into a postmodern-slasher-101 crash course.

The movie embodies an abrasive form of hyper-awareness that actually feels like director Wes Craven is laughing both at himself and the audience. Is it a self-parody? Well, yes and no. Yes because it lets you in on the joke from the very beginning and no because there’s still enough in there to get you thinking afterwards. He lets you know out loud what’s about to happen but at the same time still provides some chills and scares.
Naturally, we can’t discuss the big killer reveal because that would downright just ruin it. Scre4m can be considered successful primarily because it’s entertaining.

You would think that movies such as this don’t require too much thinking, and it doesn’t. You can sit back, feel nervous and watch as massacre unfolds before you. It’s just a movie, as some people would say, maybe not one which is as good or as hip the original but ingenious in its own right nonetheless.

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