April 28, 2011

Scream IV Marks 4th Round of Scream Decline

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A movie sequel is made because of the commercial or critical success of the original. After a movie receives substantial attention from audiences around the world and becomes a box office hit, studio executives sometimes give producers and directors the green light to produce a sequel of this cinematic success. This, at times, has been a great decision. Sequels like Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and The Godfather: Part II have had great box office success and have even won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Even Toy Story 3 was able to prove that sequels can be very successful, making grown men cry (if it didn’t make you tear up in the slightest, then you have no soul), getting a nomination for Best Picture, and managing to take home the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film. However, not all sequels are successful at recapturing the original’s awesomeness — here movies like Grease 2 and Little Fockers come to mind. Although it’s not nearly as bad as the two movies just mentioned, Scream IV definitely falls under the list of mediocre sequels.

Director Wes Craven’s latest thriller takes us back to the small town of Woodsboro where the Scream saga began. A thing about Scream IV is that, like pretty much every sequel, if you have not watched the previous movies you won’t be able to keep up with most of the stuff that goes on. A lot of references will go over your head and you won’t be able to judge the quality of the film by comparing it to its antecedents; if it’s not as good, it fails its purpose as a sequel. This movie shares a setting with the first Scream movie, unlike the other two sequels. That said, this time around, the infamous Ghostface killer goes around town on a killing spree after Sydney Prescott returns to town in order to promote a book she wrote about overcoming her frightful past (so much for that). Fifteen years after Craven brought us to Woodsboro, we encounter a whole new generation of high school kids who have Facebook profiles, iPhones and who turn their everyday life experiences into YouTube videos. The embodiment of this new generation of teenagers comes in the form of Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere), Charlie Walker (Rory Culkin) and Jill Roberts (Emma Roberts).

Even though Scream IV brings the saga into the 21st century with a new generation of Hollywood actors, it’s nice that they keep in play the three characters that have survived three movies and for whom Scream fans have a soft spot. Sheriff Dewey Riley (David Arquette), Gale Weathers-Riley (Couretney Cox) and Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) are pretty much the only reason why this film was not a complete flop; viewers go to see Scream IV to find out what’s new with the characters that made the series famous. Honestly, what would a Scream movie be without Dewey’s signature “Syd!” cry? Even though all the new teenage characters give the film a fresh angle, no one really cares about them. If these new characters were to be butchered by Ghostface, the viewer’s response would be “saw it coming” or “shame, he was really good looking.” It should also be noted that Emma Roberts’ acting was so bad that, hands down, I consider it to be the scariest aspect of the movie.

In order for a scary movie to be good, there have to be deaths that are unexpected and that hurt, like Randy in Scream 2. (Yes, I’m still in mourning). This film lacks any death that would be “painful” to fans and it fails to surprise viewers in any way. Forty minutes into the film, you’re already bored. One constantly looks at the time, wondering how much movie time there is left. In retrospect, you get the feeling that the film never really “took off.” A fourth installment in this series really is a stretch. Even the characters that saved the film from being a complete flop fail to be as interesting as they once were. Sydney Prescott’s character looked tired of this whole thing. She didn’t even look scared over facing a killer like she once used to; it’s like it’s no longer a big deal to her. Her age also showed in this film (Campbell is pushing 40), when she stayed at home doing nothing throughout the whole film while the new and younger characters got most of the action. It’s a shame that this movie makes one realize this series is well past its prime.

“What’s your favorite scary movie?” This is a classic quote from the Scream series, a question that’s always used as a taunt by the Ghostface killer. What’s my favorite scary movie? Definitely not this one.

Original Author: M. Celeste Gonzalez