Scream 4

♥♥♥♥•  Note: yes, I kind of abandoned this site lol… forever on my to-do list to tidy up the links etc and get into the habit of simulposting my Letterboxd reviews/lists here… it might happen, it might not, but I'll always keep my old reviews here - I am writing much more since using Letterboxd so again, you can find me there. But, this review was meant to appear on this site nearly 4 years ago, so it seems right to put it here now. I finally got my head straight on this movie :-P

Neve Campbell, Scream 4

Neve Campbell, Scream 4

“How do you think people become famous now? You don’t even have to do anything. You just have to have f-ed up sh*t happen to you.”

I’ve been trying to write a review of this for literally 3 and a half years, and probably watched it 4 or 5 times in that time but never quite been able to decide how I feel about it… but I think I finally know.

Having written everything in my reviews of the first 3 about what this series “could have been” re: victim culture and anonymous threats, I guess I’d really forgotten just how far this one actually goes; or, I only just realised this time around that the way it goes about it is actually okay. How much further could it go than the scene where Emma Roberts’ character, Sidney’s cousin Jill, beats the crap out of herself even worse than Edward Norton in Fight Club just so she can win fame as another “sole survivor”?

I’ll tell you where I wish it had gone in that scene the first time I saw it. I thought it’d be perfectly hilarious/sick if, after getting so far in her demented plan, Jill got so involved in this act of fake self immolation that she ended up dead, for real, too - a hero, maybe, if the cops put the pieces together how she wanted, but unable to enjoy it. Touché. Maybe this ending was in the ideas bank - in the “epilogue” there’s one of those typically Scream self-excusing exchanges, “The movie was supposed to end in the house back there…” “Consider this an alternate ending”.

I think the first time, and even subsequent times, that I saw it I just wanted the movie to end a little sicker, on a down note. As much as I love her, I think I might’ve wished Sidney had died. You could cut the whole epilogue entirely and either end it on the white-out over Jill’s face thinking she’s a hero - or make it worse and go from there to the reporters confirming all of this, which are given an ironic turn in the final cut. It’d be a powerful indictment of where our society could be headed. But I really appreciated that ironic turn this time (which is basically similar to that first ending I described, above) - and I appreciated that all the original characters again make it. And it’s still pretty damning of our society to boot.

I think it bugged me that the movie wasn’t so much about Sidney, maybe - and I’m not sure I liked that they placed her on the same level as everyone else in the “whodunit” distraction story - but that makes sense too. She had the perfect ending at the end of Scream 3 and here she is merely a visitor. Her past kind of makes it hard to believe she would be where she is as this movie begins - would she really write a book Gale Weathers style? We saw her completely shunning glory at the end of Scream 2. But hey, people change - especially independently minded people like Sidney. And she gets her moment at the end here (“Don’t f-k with the original.”) so it's all good.

In the opening (which I love) one of the characters in the Stab sequels we see (or it might actually be in the last part of the opening, in the “real” world of the movie - I forget) says she doesn’t get all the self-referential stuff and her friend tells her she’s over-thinking it, to which she responds that maybe the writer is under-thinking it. I think if anything the problem with this movie is the exact opposite of this - it’s very overwrought on the “horror movie rules” stuff. Like, when the film club guy (with a streaming webcam permanently attached to his head) inadvertently puts the webcam on backwards, approaching a door, then looks at his own feed on his phone - it would be a great setup for something like the “30 second delay!” scene in the first movie… but Kevin Williamson feels the need to second guess even this clever eventuality, has the guy realise the camera is backwards, the killer comes through the door… it’s clever upon clever but the moment has passed.

I remember when they announced this movie and at some point it was suggested it was to be the start of a whole new trilogy - I guess with MTV now making a TV series it’ll be a while before we see 5 and 6, if ever, which I think is a shame. I find the victim culture suggestions in this movie fascinating - so fascinating, as you can see in those reviews of 1-3, that they’ve shaped my view of the whole series and made me utterly fall in love with the character of Sidney Prescott. But I think they could go further, get really sick, really risk “offending” people like Sidney’s assistant - so self-absorbed she makes her idol Gale Weathers look good, telling Sidney, “You’re a victim for life, so… embrace it! Use it!” (oh, how I wish that character hadn't died so soon…), or the film club guy, about to die, saying, “I’m gay… if it helps?” to save himself. But, then I think about Emma Roberts pulling out her own hair, throwing herself at a glass picture frame, stabbing herself, etc… and, I don’t know… maybe this is as good as it gets on a concept so dangerously close to our collective bones…

(oh, and just 'cos I have nowhere else to put it… "How meta can you get?" "How whatta can you get?" "I don't know, I heard them say it…" Come on, this series has some killer lines…)