Movie Review: Scream 4 (Short Version)
The First Ninety-Four Minutes and Twelve Seconds of Scream 4
By Tom Douglass
December 13, 2011
Editor's note: Several BOP writers have independently reached the conclusion that Scream 4 is a missed opportunity as a movie. Collectively, we have made the assertion that the film has roughly 15 minutes too many. In order to test our hypothesis, we asked for one of our contributors to watch and review the movie in this manner. We designated the exact moment we believe Scream 4 should cut to the credits and he watched it as if that were the true ending. This review is predicated upon viewing it as such. If you would like to join our writer and take the Scream 4 test yourself, the instructions are at the bottom of the column.
* SPOILER ALERT *** - This review discusses key plot details from The First Ninety-Four Minutes and Twelve Seconds of Scream 4. Consider yourself warned.
After an 11 year hiatus, Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson returned to the Scream franchise in 2011 with The First Ninety-Four Minutes and Twelve Seconds of Scream 4 (TFNFMATSOS4), bringing fan favorites Sidney Prescott, Gale Weathers, and Dewey Riley back to Woodsboro for another impossible-to-see-it-coming return of Ghostface and his teen-stabbing ways. TFNFMATSOS4 is a welcome addition to the franchise, giving audiences all the aspects we have come to expect from the Scream films. But what really sets this entry apart is the ending, which opens the door for a new intriguing direction for the franchise.
Seeing how the Scream films have an accepted template at this point, let's tackle this one in order:
Each Scream movie has featured one of its best and most star-studded kills to open the movie, from Drew Barrymore to Jada Pinkett and Omar Epps to Liev Schreiber. TFNFMATSOS4 skews a little more complex and meta than they have historically. An initial kill scene starring Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars) and Shenae Grimes (90210) features some awkwardly cliched dialogue before being revealed as the open from “Stab 6”, being watched by Anna Paquin and Kristen Bell. This scene quickly takes an uncharacteristic turn, with Bell delivering a non-Ghostface knife to Paquin's gut, before this scene is revealed to be the open from “Stab 7”. The pair of teenage girls watching this movie, thankfully, belong to the world of TFNFMATSOS4, and it doesn't take long for Ghostface to shuffle them loose the mortal coil.
The open is interesting in a couple respects. It establishes that the “Stab” franchise has gone almost completely off the rails since we saw these characters last, and offers an opportunity to namecheck more recent trends in horror like torture porn and the “Saw” franchise. The movie-within-a-movie-within-a-movie also allows for a solid five stabbings in a short time, so it's fairly action packed, without a lot of “Ghostface gets his knife stuck in a door” or “young girl sweeps the leg and sends Ghostface 15 yards backwards” nonsense. That said, it all feels a little inconsequential due to the amount of stuff they jammed into a short period of time. All in all, when the Scream 4 title hits the screen, I imagine most movie-goers are smiling; it's the kind of murderous fun these movies are known for.