“Scream 4″ (D)

Written by: Mike Sergott

Mon, Apr 18, 2011

Starring: Neve Campbell, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Rory Culkin
Directed by Wes Craven
Running time: 1:46

I’ve seen a lot of really moronic horror films in my time, including ones with Killer Klowns, homicidal ventriloquist dummies, an evil severed hand that falls from space, and Halloween III. So, no, I won’t call Scream 4 (aka Scre4m) dumb, even though there are plot holes so big, the combined plot holes from Scream 2 and Scream 3 could drive through them.

And I’ve seen some lazy horror movies, including the unending Friday the 13th sequels. So, no, I won’t call Scream 2 the laziest movie I’ve ever seen… although it comes close.

What I will saddle Scream 4 with is the title of Most Boring Horror Movie I’ve ever seen. Seriously, what does it say when my wife – who gets scared watching Kenny die on South Park – breezes through this movie like a walk in a Woodsboro park?

Maybe it’s because we know almost every single moment before it happened – not because we were so savvy, per se, but because the new movie “borrows” so liberally from the initial installment of the series.

Scream 4 makes no bones about its source material. Upon the return of uber-survivor Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) to her hometown of Woodsboro, the new Ghostface has decided to recreate the killings/ chaos of so many years ago.

We get tons of admonishments re how you “don’t fuck with the original” from the characters, and endless movie-within-a-movie references that already grow old during the film’s lame opening sequence (oh, and by the way guys… we get it. It’s “meta.” You don’t have to keep using the word “meta” like you’re Charlie Kaufmann at a screenwriting symposium).

“What’s your favorite scary movie?” “Um… not Scream 4.”

And so it begins. We have Sidney once again tormented, bumbling sheriff Dewey (Arquette) still… well, bumbling… and nosy reporter Gale Weathers (Cox, whose face is stretched so tight by cosmetic surgery she now has a disturbingly-wide Joker grin) trying to make a buck off everyone else’s trauma. And of course, what would a horror movie be without an abundant crop of teens to slaughter? Since Campbell is now 38, we’re introduced to her younger cousin and pals. Of course, they say snarky things that are way too thoughtful for kids their age, and they’re way too defiant in the face of imminent danger (seriously, a confirmed killer is on the loose so you go to a friend’s house with no adult supervision, get drunk and watch the movie that’s based on the confirmed killer who is on the loose? Really?).

You just hope they all die as soon as possible so you can go home and watch something tasteful and well done. Like The Hills Have Eyes.

Director Craven and writer Kevin Williamson try to make this seem as if it isn’t a 1990 retread by throwing around references to modern media – the killer texts at times instead of calls, one student vlogs his whole school experience, apparently, and the murders are uploaded to the Internet (someone should explain the concept of traceable IP addresses to Williamson… but I digress).

The Verdict

The original was a game changing horror film because it poked fun at tired convention and created something new and different. It’s sad that this latest installment – which actually makes fun of sequels and horror movies for the same old plots being done to death – is as lazy and boring as any horror movie I’ve seen in a very long time. Mike’s rating: D

But don’t just take my word for it…

The average Metacritic score was 53 out of 100 (“Mixed or average reviews).”

[Rated R for “strong bloody violence, language and some teen drinking.”]

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Mike Sergott has written 209 articles for Appetite for Deconstruction.

Mike Sergott is co-creator and staff deconstructor for A4D. Due to his unorthodox-yet-versatile style of journalism, many have referred to him as "the Fat Lever of the Internet.”

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