Review: Scream 4 (2011)

Directed by Wes Craven, Scream 4 is the fourth instalment in the popular slasher franchise, and comes eleven years after the pallid Scream 3 hit our screens.

The film centers on Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), who returns to Woodsboro on the last stop of her book tour. There she reconnects with Sheriff Dewey (David Arquette) and Gale (Courteney Cox), as well as her younger cousin Jill (Emma Roberts) and Aunt Kate (Mary McDonnell).

Unfortunately, Sidney’s appearance also brings about the return of Ghostface, putting Sidney, Gale, and Dewey, along with Jill, her friends, and the whole town of Woodsboro in grave danger.

Taking details from the original, Scream 4 presents itself as a horror reboot, and presents a twisted new set of rules. It calls out all the shoddy horror remakes and leaves them in its grisly wake, even taking time to be (genuinely) tech savvy and fit in a comical dose of social commentary.

Original screenwriter Kevin Williamson infuses his script with clever swipes at 21st century horror, nifty one-liners and genuinely surprising, very well executed twists.

The horror beats in the script make for a triumphant return. It truly feels as though Williamson has upped his game, especially with regard to the flaws in Scream 3 which occurred in his absence. He has returned to the original film’s ideas, and delivers a much more realistic and contemporary horror film – once again instilling fear and nervousness into the audience’s minds.

Wes Craven’s direction is snappy, coherent and naturalistic. Instead of relying on heavy camera tricks like many recent horror directors, he shoots his film in a very raw fashion – as if making a real effort to produce a much more natural horror within his viewers.

The gore has been increased to counteract any feeling of over-familiarity with the franchise, and the deaths have become increasingly inventive. Special regard goes to the hall-of-mirrors style opening, which takes the well worn opening sequence formula and turns it on its head.

It’s a joy to see the new cast gel so well with the returning trio – who, after eleven years, re-inhabit their respective roles exquisitely, making it feel as if no time at all has passed between films and the characters have been living on in peace.

All the newbies are up to the task and fully invest in their roles no matter the screen time, providing plenty of entertainment and witty one-liners. Of them, Roberts, Hayden Panettiere and Alison Brie are the most impressive, each moulding their personalities into fleshed out, humorous and believable characters.

Scream 4 is an undeniably sharp, well-crafted and suitably gory improvement on its weak predecessor, and a sprightly addition to the much-loved slasher franchise. Please, Craven, can we have some more?

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