If this is the beginning of a “new generation” of horror films, this genre is in for a rough ride.
“Scream 4,” starring Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette and Emma Roberts is set in the fictional town of Woodsboro, the setting of the original “Scream” film.
The film opens with a few fake beginnings, both of them film clips from the fake film series “Stab,” which is sort of a film within the film that began in “Scream 2.” The third sequence—the actual opening—to no surprise, is two teenage girls being brutally murdered by Ghostface.
The whole town is unaware because the local celebrity and lone survivor of previous murder sprees Sidney Prescott (Campbell) is back in Woodsboro to promote her new book. When the sheriff, Dewey Riley (Arquette), finally hears of the murders, he is led to the bookstore where Prescott is holding her book signing only to find a cell phone and bloody papers in the back of Prescott’s rental car.
This is where the killing begins.
Everyone in Woodsboro, including the cops and Gale Weathers-Riley (Cox), think that Prescott being back in town has something to do with the murders. All are worried that Jill Roberts (Roberts), Prescott’s cousin, will also be a victim because of threatening phone calls she receives, so 24-hour police surveillance is assigned to her.
Jill and her friends don’t particularly care for the idea and are constantly trying to get around the cops, even though a murderer is on the loose. From here on out, many teenagers, cops and people associated with Prescott are found to be on the wrong end of a knife wielded by the Ghostface killer.
The fast-paced action and suspense is bogged down by the slow and over-thought dialogue, which ruins many sections of the film.
The characters, particularly members of the high school Cinema Club, constantly talk about the new “rules” of horror films and end up explaining parts of the plot.
As the action continues and the climax fast approaches, two other glaring aspects come into play: Arquette and Cox are not very good actors and the role of Jill should not have been played by the squeaky-clean Emma Roberts. The line delivery and “emotions” the characters portray are one of the scariest parts of the film, making one question the screenwriters’ credentials.
The ending of “Scream 4” goes from semi-decent to terrible in about five minutes because of the dialogue and over-thinking on the part of the screenwriters. The bad acting doesn’t help here either.
So if you are a fan of slasher films, be cautious of “Scream 4,” because the scariest part is wondering why you spent two hours in a theater watching it.