Apr 21, 2011

Scream 4

I've caught wind of idle banter dissenting the Scream franchise recently. You won't find Craven's brand of fandom on my person but I know better than to make such groundless accusations claiming Scream "killed the slasher genre." Strong, spiteful words for such a spineless parade venturing away from popular opinion. In order to comprehend the slasher genre, one needn't wrack ones brain to discuss the finer merits. As humbly noted in Scream 4, the slasher began, as an idea, moreover an example, with Michael Powell's Peeping Tom and Hitchcock's Psycho and was later mutated with help from Mario Bava's Twitch of the Death Nerve, arguably the most influential film of the genre. What Mario Bava stoked was an ember of a slasher renaissance that would explode the following decade. Reducing art and applying bloodshed is hardly a fitting form to follow; no big brothers to speak of that don't insist on stalk and kill. Sure, there are gems but even the most unconventional distractions to the slasher film remain hampered by its limited mentality. Perhaps this was Wes Craven's modus operandi to lampoon the slasher genre with his humorous and grim take on teenage psychopathy. Once being a professor in humanities, Wes Craven has indulged himself a spotty career. You could unctuously compare Wes Craven to be that of an American Takashi Miike, whose cinematic endeavors are more likely to be shit than gold. Take last year's horror dead-weight My Soul to Take 3D and enjoy refuting my opinion aloud. Back on topic of the Scream franchise, one thing is consistent in every film - no deadpan delivery of mystery. Ideas can be tossed around, fingers pointed, and speculations rising but when it comes down to it the only thing you can do is sit, stare, and wait patiently. Scream 4 is certainly no exception to this rule of horror and suspense.

With the origins of Scream secured, to continue the canon of stabbing horror would be to continue with the classic cast utilizing the slogan "New decade, new rules". This can attest to Halloween H20 and Halloween: Resurrection, as well as Wes Craven's New Nightmare - basically the effects of the new millennium and the necessary evolution of convolution. What Craven prods at is so unrighteously defended, downtrodden with red excess and a continuing chase to cap last year's inventions in slaughter. This creates one hell of a cliche pile-up. Scream 4 had worlds to make up to, especially after the barbaric sequel Scream 3 - a film so forgettable that I often excuse flashbacks to Scream 2 as Scream 3. Could it be my subconscious battling to forgive and to leave one of Craven's many errors in hindsight? Scream 4 is so preciously wrapped in its satire that to bear a review without the supplied terms "meta" or "tropes" would be to turn cheek to the obvious and if there is one thing I am not, it is oblivious. Scream 4 is crafted as a reboot of the franchise, aimed down the sights at our current gen-X'rs whose horror dangles on the lines of such fodder as The Roommate or Prom Night. It's a tell-all tale of an original cast up to new tricks. This wouldn't be my first time experiencing a similar occasion on film. You could even consider it momentous. A classic line in Scream 4 - "Don't fuck with the originals!". This very same move was made by a blaxploitation picture years earlier. Pardon my train-of-thought taking a detour but I consider Original Gangstas to be an important piece that takes the early innovators of soul power and militancy and aggressively deploys them against their younger incarnates. This is the same chess play that Craven's appointed message of horror used within Scream 4.

All is not well in the infamous town of Woodsboro, whose white picket fences of fiction have harbored countless slayings and serial killers. Filling the need of a capable cinema mind, Scream 4 introduces two cinephiles, thus replacing the need for the previous character of Randy who was tragically killed in the second Scream. One of these characters is even portrayed by a Culkin which adds a field of depth to his suave stature towards film. Returning are the three originals, Sidney Prescott, Gale Weathers, and Dewey Riley. Ten years after the events of Scream 3, Sidney Prescott returns to her quiet hometown on the last stop of her book tour when the murders begin again. With a bevy of beautiful babes, Scream 4 begs for nudity, as well as one of the chief characters, but in good faith, is never delivered. Self-referential to an extreme degree, Scream 4 is a charming sequel, reflexive with its stabs at the Saw franchise and the rise of "torture porn". Craven indeed points and laugh at the current status of horror and in the process, compiles ten years of brainstorming to put a wonderful close(?) to a trilogy because, as we all know, horror pounds past thrice now. The plot of Scream 4 isn't what is so important. Constructed in a formula similar to mad-lib with a camera, I can remind you of every vengeance-ridden plot of slashers past and you can put the pieces together. No, what is important about Scream 4 is how dedicated it is to its trend of trope-smashing while retaining a great deal of violence and humor. For the record, I am also quite partial to this installment as Bruce Willis is referenced and that right there guarantees a reaction out of me. 

Opening on a note similar to a game of catch and release, Stab 6 & 7 are looped through whichever dimension being dominant to the canonScream 4's opening retreats from a film within a film to a film within a film within, etc. Craven reassures you that he has still paid close mind to the topic at hand. While reprising favor to the original Scream, I also have to add that the first sequel tends to the still-open wounds of the characters. Scream 4 plays medic as well, though I found the lack of Dewey's limp to be disturbing. I suppose physiotherapy could have played a hand in this, as many interpretations suggest. In Scream 4, Craven expands his influences and references. Not just Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Nightmare on Elm Street but Suspiria, Don't Look Now, and the aforementioned Psycho and Peeping Tom. With the broadening of references, Scream 4 also opens doors to new delights and is essentially a remake of the first film with familiarity playing a large role in collecting similar sentiments. This aspect of the film finds Sidney, not experiencing post-traumatic stress but a new woman. No love life here to contemplate guilt towards due to ever-lasting suspicion, Sidney Prescott is reborn. Same goes for Dewey's physical handicap. It has vanished, along with his bumbling rookie nature. Gale Weathers even seems to foster much more "humanity" than before. Scream 4 is essentially a redoing of previous events, which in a strange way, casts out a copycat killer and authenticates the crimes to a formidable foe. To further the surprise, Scream 4's final moments take place in a hospital - a move that many horror films employ. There is something terrifying about a place that promotes both sterility and malaise. Not much of a review but an overview - I simply speak to alert anyone with doubt that the integrity of the Scream franchise is safeguarded by the fourth installment. 


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