Things I Learned From Movie X
By Edwin Davies
October 11, 2011
It’s rare for a long-running series to take time off and then come back to be as good as it was before it went away. With such a rich history to live up to, the next installment already comes saddled with a great deal more baggage than it could realistically handle. There’s also the chance that the world might have changed in some way that makes the very idea of the series itself irrelevant, so no matter how good the new addition might be, it simply won’t have the audience that it once had. Surely, bringing back a series after a time away is a foolhardy endeavour doomed to fail.
But that’s enough about the return of Things I Learned From Movie X after a brief hiatus, let’s talk about Scream 4. (Ha! I am being meta and post-modern, thereby making me seem relevant and new again!) Or Scre4m, as it is annoyingly known, if only because it makes me read the name as Screfourm and then incorrectly believe that it is a sequel to the classic 1995 serial killer movie Sesevenen. In Scream 4, Sidney Prescott returns to Woodboro as part of a tour in support of a book she has written about her experiences in the previous films, and because everyone involved needed the money. Once she arrives, she reconnects with family and friends, realizes how much she has changed, then leaves town with no real incident. Nah, I’m just fuckin’ with you. Someone dressed up as an Edvard Munch painting kills a bunch of fresh young faces, whilst the real horror lies on the faces of the older cast members as they are all forced to look back on their careers and wonder how things have gone so wrong that the only way they can get their names on a film poster these days is by digging up the festering corpse of their one successful franchise and forcing it to go through the old familiar motions like some macabre puppet show.
Still, new decade, new rules; new column, new lessons.
You can get away with anything if you say that you’re going to do it beforehand
Scream 4 opens with a scene of two girls (Lucy Hale and Shenae Grimes) hanging out in their home, talking about boys, scary movies and doing other broadly stereotypical teenage girl things. Suddenly they get a phone call and the audience get a nauseating sense of déjà vu. They answer the phone to hear some creepy guy asking them weird questions, before eventually telling them to open the door to their house. They do, discover that there’s no one there, but it turns out that THE KILLER IS INSIDE THE HOUSE! They are both killed by the Ghostface Killer (no, not that one), at which point the film pulls back to reveal two girls (Kristen Bell and Anna Paquin) watching that scene unfold. It turns out that was just the opening of Stab 6, the sixth installment of the fictional film-series-within-a-film-series that has been a part of the Scream franchise since Scream 2. They talk about how one of them (Paquin) finds the film to be stupid since it’s just a load of characters being killed off, none of whom were developed so their deaths hold no weight. Then Kristin Bell guts Anna Paquin, which is awesome because Kristen Bell is awesome. (You can’t tell, but I just took a full five minute break from writing this to think about how much I miss Veronica Mars. Sigh.) Then, the film pulls back again to reveal that, oh shit, *that* was the opening scene of Stab 7, which is being watched by two other girls (Aimee Teegarden and Brittany Robertson) who debate the emptiness of all this post-modernism and how, after a certain point, it just becomes meaningless and hollow. Then Ghostface shows up and kills them both in ways that are eerily reminiscent of deaths in previous Scream films, at which point the Scream 4 title finally comes up. Then the film pulls back to reveal me watching it at home, at which point I start writing this article. After I send it to my editor, I get a phone call from someone asking me if I like writing about scary movies, before Ghostface appears and hacks me to pieces with a knife. Then it pulls back to reveal you reading this very article, unaware that the killer IS STANDING RIGHT BEHIND YOU FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST WATCH OUT!