Movie Review: Scream 4 (The REALLY Short Version)
By Tom Houseman
December 22, 2011
But aren't we in exactly the same situation as Kirby (what a ridiculous name, by the way)? Are we not watching, through a window, a teenage girl being killed? We are unable to stop the slaughter, and we can only watch. Williamson and Craven explored this idea before, in Scream, when Gale's cameraman was watching video footage of somebody being killed inside the house. They are watching a movie the same way that we are, but for them it is real. It is not real for the two blonde girls watching Stab 6, or the two other blonde girls watching Stab 7. For them, and for us, it is just a movie, but for Gale's cameraman and for Kirby, the scene they are watching is real life.
The additional layer of this is that these characters think of their lives in relation to movies. All of the events are compared to “fiction,” while none of them realize that Ghostface is as real as Michael Myers and Jigsaw: not at all. “Think of me as your director,” the real Ghostface says to Julie Taylor in the third scene, which again raises the question of why this Ghostface is more real than the Ghostface in Stab 6. “You're in my movie; you've got a fun part.” I suppose that in a sense this solves the mystery: the real killer is Wes Craven.
So Williamson and Craven are challenging not just our assumptions of horror movies, but the way we consume fiction. They are commenting on the absurdity of all stories, even his own, or perhaps especially his own. “You're overthinking it,” says Julie Taylor to not Julie Taylor before they are killed. “Am I?” asks not Julie Taylor, “or did whoever made it just underthink it?” Whatever you want to say about Scream 4, it is certain that Williamson and Craven did not underthink anything.
While the story is not nearly as interesting as the first three films, and yes, the last 15 minutes are awful, the identity of the film is brilliant. This is a film in which everything in the world is fictional, and therefore meaningless. But since all fiction is meaningless, we are allowed to sit back and indulge our sick voyeurism. It fundamentally changes the idea of not believing anything you see: in this meaningless fictional world, believing nothing is the same as believing everything. And that is why the first five and a half minutes of Scream 4 is my favorite scary movie.