Movie Review: Scream 4 (The REALLY Short Version)
By Tom Houseman
December 22, 2011
The third film took this notion of life imitating art to another level, by having the killer take out characters in the order that they are supposed to be killed in Stab 3. This makes the Stab series even more important to the overarching idea of the film, while also continuing to point out the irony that the life that is imitating art is itself art. That is the brilliance of the Scream trilogy. It is always very aware that it is a movie, a movie about movies, and it toys with that idea very effectively. Scream 3 also brings the story back to the beginning, essentially completing the trilogy. Since Scream 4 begins a new story, and that new story it begins isn't very interesting, I am going to ignore it completely for the purposes of this review.
The film opens with some random brunette girl (Girl 1) answering the phone, and we hear the all too familiar Ghost Face voice. “Hello?” “Hello.” “Uh, yes?” “Who's this?” It's what we would expect from the opening of a Scream movie, but right off the bat, something smells fishy. It is exactly what we would expect from the opening of a Scream movie. It is right on the nose. We know that the opening scene of the Scream films is part of the formula. Somebody answers the phone and starts talking to Ghostface. In the second film they changed it by having us in a theater, with the scene in question happening during the opening of Stab. In the third film, we have a character with whom we are familiar, Cotton Weary, answering the phone.
So now, in Scream 4, we have the familiar, but we don't have the twist. To a discerning Scream 4 viewer, something feels amiss. The scene continues and immediately segues into another part of the formula: characters discussing horror films. Horror has changed quite a bit in the last decade, so now these two girls (whose names we do not know) are discussing Saw 4. Of course, Williamson takes the chance to get his digs in at torture porn. “You don't give a shit who dies,” expounds the girl who was not on the phone with ghost face (Girl 2), “because there's no character development. It's just body parts ripping and blood spewing.” Again, this feels so on the nose, so generic Scream dialogue, that while you're busy settling in to the formula, something feels strange.
As the scene continues we see Ghostface working his magic, this time with social networking at his hand. When Girl 2 starts discussing her new Facebook stalker, it is painfully obvious that this is Ghostface at work. Williamson doesn't bother building the suspense, as Girl 2 says that her stalker has been saying “Hey, what's up, blah blah, I'm going to kill you.” This is so obvious that it's funny, and Williamson has never been afraid to score laughs during the Scream films, so he gets a few more in when Girl 1 points out that the picture of Girl 2's stalker is actually that of Channing Tatum (made even more amusing by the fact that she recognizes him just from his abs).