Ross’s Review: “Scream 4″ (2011)

It's here. And we can't believe our thighs.

First things first: This is monumental, as you very well know. The Camp has several reviews of Scream 4 planned for release so as to represent a variety of queerpinions. You know how each Counselor has his niche, hair color, and posable bulge; we are here to please you, satiate you, and above all, to give you the proper low-down in as many means as necessary.

Second things second: By reading ANY review of Scream 4 before seeing it, you are doing yourself a massive disservice. It’s that big. It’s that kind of movie. Control your tingling loins right now and quit scrolling if you want to feel its greatest possible effect on a viewer.

For those of you who are dangerously stepping across this warning, you are very brave… accordingly, Buzz is offering intimate lapdances in the Canteen Hut (as well as free Charleston Chews!) for those who survive this review.

She's back! And with a (subdued) vengeance...

Scream 4: The Reboot. The Non-Sequel, Non-Remake, Gratuitous Mindfuck.

To call Scream 4 “Scream 4″ is immediately mis-marketing this kinetic, ADHD movie-thing (slash fanboy art project) released last night at midnight and explosively worldwide in theaters this weekend. This title is an in-joke upon itself. What we see here is NOT another addition to the now-classic canon of Screams 1 through 3. What we see here, in fact, is arguably the most self-aware horror movie you’ve ever fucking seen. It takes balls to be that movie, and Scream 4 attempts to take the cake.

Whether you say it succeeds in this sense, or say it falls flat on its face from the opening shot all the way through its roller-coaster Mouse Trap proceedings, is completely up to you, your tastes, and your knowledge of and devotion to this series. I can honestly and surprisingly say, I’m conflicted whether or not it fully “succeeded.” This is for each viewer to decide for his or her self.

Luckily, though, whether or not it succeeds in an ideological sense doesn’t really matter, Mr. Intellectual Moviegoer, because you’ll be blinded and overjoyed by how INCREDIBLY, ENORMOUSLY FUN this highly-anticipated and obsessively under-wraps project turned out to be.

Contemplating next career moves...

Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven have created a plastic fantastic world in which Sidney Prescott’s (Neve Campbell) life as a noticeably butch poor survivor-girl is equated to that of being on Jersey Shore. She’s an overexposed sensation – a now bestselling self-help guru who, sadly, did the only thing society told her to do in this situation: capitalize on her victimization and exploit her survival for moolah. Sadly, this does not help Sidney come out of her awkwardly sensitive shell, now ten years more irritating since we’ve last seen her, though perhaps this fault lies in Ms. Campbell’s performance. More on that later.

In this world, 21st century horror movie buffs fawn at Sidney’s almighty clogs – not only because she’s defeated several real-life Ghost Face killahs (in the events of Scream, Scream 2, and Scream 3, which naturally, in this world, have become the most hysterically bloated pieces of self-indulgent media fixations, as they would)… but, more importantly, because these bloated news stories have spawned the almighty important Stab franchise. As in reality, everyone loves a good adaptation.

Sunrise Studios's Stab 3 with Emily Mortimer, Ghosty, Matt Keeslar, and Parker Posey

If you thought you had Stab overload in the previous two sequels, prepare for Stab to be shoved grotesquely into every audience orifice it can find. This franchise, having now entered its Stab 6 and Stab 7 phase, has grown to horrific and monstrous proportions, and all the Woodsboro horror buffs eat it up like mint chocolate Milanos dipped in caramel and simmered in a pan with Willy Wonka’s jism. It’s their crack; they’d die without it. And when author-celeb Sidney re-visits this now-degraded hell-hole for the final stop on her convenient lil’ book tour (“Out of Darkness” – zero points for creativity), the most exhausting can of worms is unleashed.

The unsuspecting victims of Sidney’s shitstorm: Woodsboro is populated by the most interesting folks these days! Somehow, it has morphed into a sleek and silver micro-society, as if the quiet California town from Scream raped Stepford, and this new Woodsboro is the bastard offspring. Case in point: Marley Shelton, Anthony Anderson, and Adam Brody are the naive young cops, and suspectsHayden Panettiere, Emma Roberts, and Rory Culkin are among our disgustingly (and, I guess, believably) movie-savvy high school protags of the lustrous modern day, and suspects… And, of course, that screwball slapstick geezer couple, Gale Weathers and Dewey Riley (the Cox-Arquette circus) still fucking live here.

Staying true to Randy Meeks’ video store declarations in the classic original, Everyone’s a Suspect. And oh, BOY, does this still hold up today. Throughout Scream 4‘s absolutely batshit insane plot – which at times makes minimal attempt to appease logic in place of some of the most intensely and gorgeously bloody and actually shocking death scenes for these weary eyes – literally almost EVERY character in this Ringling Bros pot-pie gets their “Is he/she the killer?” moment. And, why wouldn’t they? The point of the game is to trust no one, and Scream 4 handles this excellently.

Panettiere and Roberts, newest and nubile potential victims in Craven's game

As for the performances… I’m at a loss. Sometimes you’ll feel like this is The Social Network meets ’90s teen horror, a seriously strung-out group of fast-talking P.Y.T.’s acting all apocalyptic and emotionless – which is fun, but it gets tiring. If you’re not Sorkin, back off. It just won’t work. Though most of these cast members are random CW and ABC Family stars and rejects, some shine through: newcomer Erik Knudsen as our resident web-geek shows some teen panache, plus gorgeous nobody Marielle Jaffe and Mad Men‘s Alison Brie turn in some memorable Supporting Horror Girl performances. There’s a hottie, Nico Tortorella, but he’s kind of a blank slab, albeit sexy.

Neve Campbell, sadly, comes out as the weakest link. Sidney Prescott is the only part of this series that hasn’t evolved past the dramatic, sensitive core. Everything else has grown in bounds: the charisma, the speed, the Olympic hurdles past convention. It’s hard to tell if the filmmakers simply didn’t care about fleshing her out beyond the whimpering heroine who still acts like she’s in Woodsboro High, or if Nevey has been out of the cameras’ glare for just too long to catch up with the game.

Arquette and Cox are, naturally, a little weary; Dave’s alright, not given much to play with, but Cox really needs to reel it in – and that face! What happened, Monica!? It’s interesting how the least enjoyable parts of Scream 4 are the original three survivors. Should we have expected this?

Deputy Dewey on the case!

As for the semi-discussed Anna Paquin cameo (and the less-discussed Kristen Bell one), you’ll be satiated, I promise you. It’s a simple, fun, and powerful utilization of the love-to-hate vampy vamp.

And, yes: THERE IS A POSITIVELY-PORTRAYED SUPPORTING GAY CHARACTER! But that’s just another one of the many unexpected, unpredictable surprises in Craven and Williamson’s opera du jour. So keep your eyes peeled, salivators.

All in all, Scream 4 is convoluted, but also entertainingly over-stuffed, like after you eat too much goodness and enter a momentary food coma. Scream 4 wants to be badass, but then again, it is so different and stand-out from its fellow genre pushers that you can’t help but call it somewhat, slightly, in a way, revolutionary. Yes, it will hurt your brain, but it’ll also make you laugh, make you jump, make you gasp, make you sit in awe at the gruesome guttings (trust me, you have not seen it all), and make you boner-fied for resuscitating nostalgia in a highly creative and imaginative way.

It deserves acclaim on a basic level for encapsulating the current mindset in horror in 2011: a dire need for a breath of fresh air, quick pacing and knife-sharp dialogue, and above all, blood, blood, blood.


SCREAM 4 is rated R for a frightening amount of technology in a feature-length film, Panettiere’s Chucky-like midget arms and Tippi Hedren updo, a clever use of audience expectations, and a Culkin.

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About Ross

Ross studied film at Emerson while working for indie producers, and he critiques shit from a queer POV here and @GingerBredhaus. He also produced 2015 gay horror slasher comedy YOU'RE KILLING ME and creates immersive theater in NYC.