Scream 4 (2011)

scream 4

“This isn’t a comedy, it’s a horror film. People live, people die and you’d better start running.”

The Scoop: 2011 R, directed by Wes Craven and starring Lucy Hale, Neve Campbell, and David Arquette

Tagline: New decade. New rules.

Summary Capsule: Sidney returns to her hometown, but wouldn’t you know? Ghostface does too.


Justin’s rating: Meta Mary sat on a toffet, eating her blood and whey

Justin’s review: What Scream brought to the horror table was both a blessing and a curse.  After almost two decades of full-on slasher flicks, Wes Craven and his team flipped the tired clichés on their head by asking one simple question: “What if the characters were like us and had a rudimentary understanding of how slasher films worked?”

It wasn’t exactly the birth of the meta — the self-aware, self-referential — experience in the genre, but it was definitely when it exploded.  The film managed to be clever, a little scary, and a lot funny all while blowing new life into a (ahem) dead field.

But its curse is that this sort of trick could only really work once.  Scream 2 and Scream 3 kind of proved that, with each being far more pale copies of the original and falling into the same traps of their slasher forefathers.  That’s not to mention all of the other self-referential horror movies that have plagued the genre since, all plucking away at the same note but failing to strike a chord.

So why a Scream 4?  I guarantee you, nobody was asking for it a full decade after Scream 3 breezed through theaters and proved that the Scream franchise wasn’t resonating as well with fans.  I guess Wes Craven wanted to see if he could find a new angle on all of this meta nonsense while getting the audience to vaguely remember that Neve Campbell used to be an actress.

I’ll give Scream 4 this much: It obviously gives its all.  There’s the original director, the classic acting trio of Campbell, Courtney Cox, and David Arquette, and an interesting take on what horror movies mean to the current generation.  What this film is not is scary — not in the least, nor suspenseful.

Sidney is a full decade away from the string of murder sprees that dogged her every step, and instead of being in some institution somewhere protected by armed guards, she’s back in her hometown celebrating her new book that’s all about how she’s totally over those murders.  If there’s a better bat-signal for psychopaths than the Final Girl publishing a book about how she survived, I don’t know what it would be.  Suffice to say, the murders start up again with the local teen populace, Dewey is called into action, Sidney… um… runs all determined-like, and Gail tries to cash in on the events.

The “horror rules” of the franchise really got weird and watered down after the first installment, and while I can’t tell you what they are here, I did gather that they’re about horror remakes and how unpredictable they try to be.  So Scream 4 is a mite bit unpredictable, sure, but it’s also got the best Ghostface reveal and explanation since the original.  I’m always curious about all of the work a killer has to do in these movies when the camera isn’t on him or her, and Scream 4 actually takes the time to tell us a bit of it.  It’s not half-bad, but when a certain scene arrives, I guarantee that some of you will be instantly thinking of another scene from Fight Club.

Anyway, I’m officially tired of self-referring horror films.  And most horror in general, I guess.  I was only coerced into seeing this based on its sequel status and connection to one of the most prominent films of the mid-90s.  But Wes?  It’s probably best to let poor Sydney rest now.

When it's the fourth movie in a series, the budget for sets is a little skimpy.
When it’s the fourth movie in a series, the budget for sets is a little skimpy.


  • With four installments, this landmarks the Scream franchise as being one of the only horror franchises to have its main characters return for all its sequels.
  • Erik Knudsen, who appears as Robbie in this film, played Dale Turner on Jericho alongside original Scream star Skeet Ulrich.
  • Neve Campbell and Emma Roberts, two of the lead actresses in the film, both admitted to being terrified of horror films. Emma Roberts stated she was hid under the covers while watching the first 3 ‘Scream’ films. Also, Neve Campbell stated a while back that she can’t watch the films, because she doesn’t like being scared.
  • Each of the new central characters is an archetype for one of the characters from the original: Jill (Sidney), Kirby (Tatum), Trevor (Billy), Charlie (Stu), and Robbie (Randy).
  • This time, the footage from Stab includes the credit “A Robert Rodriguez Film.” Rodriguez really did direct the footage.
  • A bust of Henry Winkler (former principal in Scream) can be seen briefly in the hallway.
  • Body Count: 15.

Groovy Quotes

Ghostface: Welcome home, Sidney. You’re a survivor, aren’t you, Sidney? What good is it to be a survivor when everyone close to you is dead? You can’t save them. All you can do… is watch.

Sheriff Dewey Riley: One generation’s tragedy is the next one’s joke.

Ghostface: This isn’t a comedy, it’s a horror film. People live, people die and you’d better start running.

Charlie Walker: Well, if you wanna be the new, new version, the killer should be filming the murders.
Robbie: Yeah, it’s like the natural next step in the psycho-slasher innovation. I mean you film them all real-time and before you get caught, you upload them into cyberspace.
Charlie Walker: Making your art as immortal as you.

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • Scream
  • Scream 2
  • Scream 3

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