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Scream 4

The only thing that should really die is this franchise

dir: Wes Craven

There doesn’t need to be a Scream 4. It doesn’t need to exist. Then again, you could argue that any number of things don’t need to exist, that do exist. Instant coffee. Pancake hotdogs. The Royal Family. Syphilitic chancres. Syphilitic Royals.

Scream 4 has as much right to exist as any other crappy flick trading on a franchise’s name to justify its own existence. Look, we live in a world where there are seven or eight Saw films, five Superman flicks. Hell, Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants got a sequel. Alvin and the Chipmunks got a sequel, called The Squeakquel. People keep making them, people keep watching them, they keep making money, I keep reviewing them, and the Circle of Crapulence rolls on.

I watched Scream 4 with the same jaded eye that I watched any of the preceding flicks in the series. They’re all as good or as bad as each other (in that they’re all pretty crap, except perhaps for the first one, which was slightly less crap) and as such even a horror fan has difficulty differentiating them from any of the other flicks where people are killed in order of annoyingness over the course of 90 minutes, until one person survives, and the status of a sequel is left open in some way.

The very mild difference between these flicks and others in the slasher genre is that there isn’t a specific villain coming relentlessly back like an unkillable, profitable idea. Unlike Halloween, Friday the 13th or any other craptacular flick you care to mention, it’s not about a specific villain coming back to kill more people for the umpteenth time. It’s about some whole new bunch of morons getting dressed up in a very cumbersome Ghostface costume to kill a bunch of random people as a commentary on those other flicks where some cretin butchers a bunch of people you don’t care about.

See, it’s meta, therefore it’s cooler than the crap it’s referring to.

You know, when I write it down like that, it does sound doubly dumb. And, considering how unbelievable the whole shebang ends up being, the idea that this story keeps resurrecting itself is mostly an indictment of what level of shit we faithful lapdog audiences will happily endure, rather than possessing some clever conceit that bears repeating.

Sidney (Neve Campbell, who clearly has nothing better to do with her time) returns home, being the town of Woodsboro, to launch a book. Courteney Cox, looking like someone who’s escaped from a crazy plastic surgeon’s dungeon, returns to have arbitrary conflict with her former husband (in reality) and current husband (in the stupid movie) Dewey (David Arquette) who, for some reason despite being clearly developmentally disabled, has risen to the lofty heights of sheriff. I applaud people with intellectual hindrances aspiring to better their employment situations, but wouldn’t it be dangerous to have a person as sheriff if they’re dangerously retarded?

Speaking of sheriffs, and people with guns, I’ve never seen a movie that’s made me feel as pro-gun as this flick does. It’s the ultimate pro-gun propaganda masquerading as entertainment. I am virtually certain the NRA or one of its many shadowy splinters paid to get this flick made.

Why? Well, consider this: the plot of this flick is that for around the fourth time in this character’s life, Sidney is again confronted by different people dressing up as Ghostface, calling her up on the phone and harassing her with a creepy voice, killing everyone around her, trying to kill her half-heartedly until revealing themselves at the end like the villains in a more violent but less believable Scooby Doo episode. Then, someone kills the mass murderers, invariably with a gun, and then she goes on with her life and her recovery, hoping that that’s the last time it’ll ever happen.

This is the fourth time, Sidney. Surely, by now, knowing as you do that you’re a character in a horror movie commenting and mocking the conventions of horror movies, that it could happen indefinitely. That a virtually infinite amount of dickheads will don the Ghostface costume, grab a knife and start stabbing ineffectually at you.

You live in America, Sidney. Ten year olds in certain states can legally own guns. If you carried a gun, these would be short movies, instead of these dragging, painful exercises in futility. Watching you and various other people stumbling around in the dark being pursued by people with knives who depend and require each other to never do a slightly intelligent thing in order to keep the plot chugging along isn’t really that interesting.

I do want to see a Scream 5. Some idiot runs at Sidney with a knife in the first few minutes of the movie. She pulls out a gun and shoots him, because she realised, considering the fifteen times it’s happened previous, that there was a strong chance it would happen again.

Even better, the phone call from the idiot minutes before the first (and only) attack alerts Sidney to remove the gun from its holster. She checks her clip, flicks the safety off, and waits patiently for the fucking lunatic to walk in the front door with his or her scary costume on.

Don’t get me wrong, I find America’s relationship with guns and fervent, impassioned, religious level of entitled gun ownership surreal and insane. But this is one of the few instances where it makes absolute sense. Doing otherwise, as she has to do for these hammy, laboured flicks to continue, just makes her as irritating as her assailants.

No, I’m not implying she’s asking for it. No, I didn’t say anything about the way she was dressed. I’m just saying, if she knows people are going to try to stab her every few years, surely she could get a fucking gun and spare the audience the loss of 100 minutes and $17 dollars in order to profit only those despicable Weinstein Brothers?

When characters stand around dissecting the actions of the latest killers by referring to the slasher flick template, or, through the added conceit of referring to the Scream flicks by referring to the Stab films made to honour the fallen of the previous flicks, you should know you’re on shaky ground. It’s a bee’s dick away from the characters telling the audience ‘we know we’re in a horror flick, what the fuck do you want us to do about it? We can’t get better roles in better films, so let’s all suffer for our art together.” It’s less satire than just lazy hackwork.

Ah, look, it’s not perhaps the end of human civilisation as we know it, it’s just a bit boring and pointless. I’ve never really been a fan of slasher flicks, probably because I don’t find them scaring or affecting as horror flicks, and the Scream ones are so self-aware and self-referential that they’re hardly movies at all. It’s almost become impossible to differentiate between the Scream flicks and the Scary Movie flicks, because they’re all parodies of parodies of parodies, and neither is really than entertaining.

I’m not going to lament the sequels and praise the original, because I never thought the first one was that fucking wonderful, though it was popular way back in the heady days of the 1990s. It had something interesting, and it also had a media commentary / social commentary aspect to it with the warping of the (teenaged) American mind that seemed so prominent in the pop cultural consciousness (think Columbine, mass suicides, boy bands etc). They had to run it into the ground though, didn’t they? These characters look old and creaky now, like they should be trying to outrun osteoporosis, not fuckwits in ghost masks with a penchant for getting stabby.

No-one wants to see Courteney Cox in these flicks, no-one wants to see David goddamn Arquette in anything, let alone these flicks. Neve Campbell is capable of much better, but I guess she just wanted a paycheck to fund an extension to her house or something. The rest involved are just lazy, and are not worthy of respect any longer, perhaps. That includes Wes Craven, who doesn’t seem to have his heart or liver in it anymore. Just have a warm cup of shut the hell up and have a nap the next time you feel like directing a movie, Mr Craven, because you’re not fooling anyone.

Let me put it differently in a way that’s really current and hip that the ‘kids’ will understand. I experienced more terror, enjoyment and drama from watching the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge last week than I did from watching Scream 4.

Now that’s a burn.

4 times you could bet the house that the next Scream flick will have a reality television – Jersey Shore premise out of 10

“You had your fifteen minutes, now I want mine! I mean what am I supposed to do? Go to college? Grad school? Work? Look around. We all live in public now; we're all on the internet. How do you think people get famous anymore? You don't have to achieve anything! You just got to have fucked up shit happen to you.” – kids of today, huh? – Scream 4