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Monday, April 18, 2011

Scream 4



"Don't fuck with the original!"

"What's your favorite scary movie?" Well, it isn't Scream 4, I'll tell you that much. Or any movie in the Scream franchise. Scream 4, or Scre4m, depending on who cares, returns us to the familiar everytown USA of Woodsboro, home of the Ghostface killer and a never-ending cadre of Ghostface successors. Over a decade has passed since Scream 3 and 15 years have elapsed since now-author and always-survivor Neve Campbell was first tormented by the original Ghostface(s). It all begins again, involving a new generation of self-aware, loquacious sexy teenagers slashed to death by a new Ghostface killer after numerous tedious meta discussions about the "new rules" of remaking slasher movies. Standing against Ghostface, as ever, are the Scream originals of Campbell, blundering local sheriff David Arquette, and his shrill, harpy wife Courtney Cox(-Arquette no longer). The past 15 years and four films have only served to reaffirm how unpleasant and uninteresting Arquette and Cox's characters and relationship are. Practically every nubile young starlet in Hollywood is given the honor of being offed in Scream 4, including Lucy Hale, Shenae Grimes, Aimee Teegarden, Kristen Bell, Anna Paquin (the only Oscar winner in the bunch), Alison Brie (who gets to unleash her potty mouth), Marielle Jaffe (the hottest of the lot), Marley Shelton, and Brittany Robertson. Scream 4's prime starlets are Emma Roberts and Hayden Panettiere, and if you suspected, as I did, one of them is the Ghostface (there are usually two but the other Ghostface is just an irritating henchman), then hurrah. The reveal of the true identity of Scream 4's mastermind Ghostface is kinda clever, I guess, and true to Scream's internal logic, though I cared to the sum of zero. Despite the presence and constant discussion of how modern technology like Facebook, Twitter, and live streaming web shows affect how the Ghostface would kill in 2011, in action, Scream 4 is a retro-schlock throwback to the 1990s. The murders are simplistic and uninteresting. Not once are the Ghostface's appearances frightening and no amount of wink-wink dialogue about Ghostface's methods disguise how trite and yawn-inducing the kills are. Pop out from the shadows, chase a girl, stab with knife, repeat, repeat, ad nauseum. The most gruesome murder of one of the girls results in all four walls of her bedroom splattered with blood, but the Ghostface's black robes remain impeccably clean and his knife free of crimson. Here's a question: After 15 years of dozens of teenagers gruesomely murdered, which has resulted in best-selling books and 7 "Stab" movies, why doesn't the FBI track down the manufacturers of the Ghostface mask and costume and make it illegal to sell it?  Perhaps that would only force the next killers in the inevitable Scream 5 to don a different costume, but at least we wouldn't have to look at that stupid Ghostface anymore.