Scream 4 (3 stars)

Scream 4

Fun, clever and thrilling revitalisation of Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson's horror franchise

Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courtney Cox and Ghostface return for more slasher action

Back in 1996 horror was in the doldrums, the glory days and box-office clout of Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween were a thing of the past. Big budgets and horror were distant relatives. Then along came Scream. From the tense opening scene to the bloody party finale director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson’s slasher was a humorous take on horror that knew the tropes of the genre and played them for all they were worth. Two sequels proved the law of diminishing returns, then 11 years of silence. Now Scream is back to ask a new generation 'what's your favourite scary movie?'.

As per usual it opens with an exemplary stalk and slash sequence before Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) arrives in Woodsboro for the final date of her book tour only for Ghostface to return to terrorise teens of her home town once again. Centring on her niece (Emma Roberts) and her circle of friends (including Hayden Panettiere and Marielle Jaffe) plus movie geeks Rory Culkin and Erik Knudsen who provide a running diatribe on ‘the rules’. As the teen population is thinned Sheriff Dewey and reporter Gail Weathers (David Arquette and Courtney Cox) attempt to unravel the latest Ghostface killer’s identity.

It’s all very meta, with films within films and multiple dissections of horror reboots and remakes, updated with references to twitter, facebook and the internet but at it’s core Scre4m is still exactly what it’s parodying – an excellent old fashioned slasher movie. Sometimes it lapses into being too clever clever, the cast is too large (Adam Brody and Anthony Anderson as bumbling cops get hardly any screen time for example) and there are a few too many red herrings but Ghostface is a fun and unpredictable killer, anyone is fair game and the Scooby-Doo-esque ‘who are you?’ murder mystery element sets it apart from the average slasher franchise. Craven and Williamson know their characters and their audience, delivering imaginative kills, thrills and some solid gags.

Out now on general release.

Scream 4 Feature Trailer

Scream 4

  • 3 stars
  • 2011
  • US
  • 1h 43min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Wes Craven
  • Written by: Kevin Williamson
  • Cast: David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Anthony Anderson, Alison Brie, Adam Brody, Rory Culkin, Marielle Jaffe, Erik Knudsen, Mary McDonnell, Marley Shelton, Nico Tortorella

Craven is back in Woodsboro with a new chapter in the post-modern slasher series as Ghostface returns for some fresh meat.

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