The Craven-Williamson teen-scream franchise is back with a fourth installment, with some of the original cast still in tact. Victim turned author Sidney (Campbell) is visiting Woodsboro on her book tour when Ghostface strikes for the first time in a decade. Cue aloof cop Dewey (Arquette) and his high maintenance wife (Cox) springing into action, alongside some ‘hey, aren’t they in…’ faces (Adam Brody, Rory Culkin, Alison Brie).
The smart red-herring opener showcases more effective scares in the first fifteen minutes than the rest of the film manages to achieve. Despite it’s 18 certificate, and a proceeding reputation for being suspensefully slash-happy, the film coasts without any obvious urge to truly terrify. Scream 4 is preoccupied with being the clever follow up to it’s predecessors, cramming in enough post-modern irony to make your head spin. The final reveal, however, is well concealed enough to produce a hand over mouth response when that Ghostface mask is once again peeled away
Surrounded by teens in a packed screening, not only did I feel my age, but wondered if the intertextual post post-modern reflections on the genre were picked up by them at all. Woodsboro’s residences are apparently still living in an era where Myers still rules the school. Which is where Scream 4 might have worked better providing a new reflection on the genre; in light of paranormal occurrences and torturing antics.
Some of the other much-loved franchise fodder are present; the wit, the whodunnit guesses, and the final act extravagance. But in trying to outsmart even it’s own existence within the genre, Scream 4 offers more of a whimper than a scream.