Friday, 22 April 2011


I love Wes Craven's Scream trilogy. An entertaining slasher series with knowing satire undeserving of the further pastiche of the Scary Movie series. It makes for a nicely concluded trilogy which helped define a generation of horror movies.

So I was understandably nervous of the dubiously titled Sre4m and sceptical as to whether it had anything to add to the series. Is it an easy money spinner or a genuinely inspired reunion flick?
It opens in classic Scream style with two girls alone in a house being telephonically interrogated as to their favourite scary movies. This introductory scene turns out not to be Scream 4 but Stab 6, a sequel to the film within a film that featured in Scream 3. These first opening scenes are trying too hard to be 'knowing' and satirical, to the point of awkwardness, but also offer genuine, if limited, discussion on what the purpose of a modern horror movie should be. It talks derisively of the Saw films and the 'torture porn' genre, and places an importance on the more human, character driven stories that it implies, in a slightly self congratulatory manner, that the Scream  franchise provides.

After this slightly awkward tone setting as Kevin Williams' script tries to to justify the film's existence, we finally settle down to some slash and hack fun. It is well put together with fairly high production values, although the slightly generic pop rock soundtrack could have been better. We have all the old faces - Neve Campbell, and the recently separated Cox-Arquettes, along with lots of bright young things (and Mary McDonnell!). The young cast are great, Hayden Panettiere shines as the feisty Kirby, and yet another Culkin crawls out of the woodwork to prove sufficient acting skills.

It's in the nature of the film for the viewer to spend it questioning who's going to be killed; who is a killer. Part of this speculation is the perhaps cynical question 'which characters are being introduced to take the franchise forward?' which adds an extra dimension to the evaluation of the cast and characterisation. It also makes it that slight bit more unpredictable, which gives it one edge over the closest alternative to watching Scre4m - re-watching Scream.

Through all its high level blustering about the philosophy of the modern horror movie (and it's really just a token effort), the film overall stays true to the original concept of Scream- a small community of pretty young people being terrorised by a masked killer. The conclusion, as stated by a surviving character (and the name of a track from the score) is "Don't mess with the original." And this is definitely the mantra of the film.

But if it's so keen to spread the message of not changing an original idea, why bother making another film? Does it actually add anything to the original films? or to cinema at large? The short answer is no. However, it does have a genuine reunion feel, that all involved were there more to reminisce than to make money. And it does stay true to it's original genre,  the end result being tense, intriguing, absorbing and most importantly fun. It is almost a remake of Scream but with the added bonus of an unknown ending. Would I have been just as happy watching a re-release of Scream on the big screen? Probably. But I still had fun.

No comments:

Post a Comment

scribble scribble scribble