If you bothered clicking on this post, chances are you’re either heading out to the cinema this weekend to see the return of the Scream franchise, or you’re trying to decide whether or not you should make the trip. Take this from someone who wasn’t a fan of the original films, especially the sequels, it’s worth the money. In fact, I think I had one of the funnest times in a theater at midnight that I’ve had for a very long time.
I have a rocky relationship with the original Scream. I recognize it for revitalizing the horror genre, which at the time, was practically six feet under. At the same time, after it’s release in 1996, it was hard to find a horror film that wasn’t trying to utilize the same formula for a quick cash-in. Modern pop-rock infused soundtrack, ultra-attractive, unbelievable cast, and a sense of self awareness of it’s own genre, these became the staple of post-1996 horror films. Though, after being a fan of the genre for practically 30 years now, these patterns repeat every decade. In the 90’s it was the sleek slasher, in the early 2000’s it was the post Hostel/Saw torture craze, and ’10 until now we’ve been beaten over the head with cinema verite. I can’t really fault “Scream” any longer for dragging horror in the late 90s into a repetitive rut. It’s just a vicious cycle that will keep repeating it’s self, decade after decade, until audiences lose interest.
The scream franchise adjusts it’s self to suit the new generation of genre fans in the new film “Scre4m”. I like this spelling of the title. It signifies that, while it’s technically a sequel, it’s also sort of a remake within a sequel, but not actually a remake at all. Does that make any sense? Perhaps I’m over analyzing a silly gimmick, but after seeing the film, the title made much more sense to me than it originally did when the teaser trailers started to hit the webs. This is a film within a film within a film, and possibly wrapped up in another film, but unfortunately, that’s as deep as I plan to delve into that concept, because I’m not going to be responsible for spoiling one of the things that makes this movie as great as it is. In fact, why are you reading this review if you haven’t seen the film yet, hit the theater, then you can come back and tell me whether or not you agree with me.
Along with the old cast of characters, this new film introduces us to a new generation of victims, survivors, and suspects. All of the new characters are both rehashed from previous entries, as well as fresh and original. No longer is the horror film expertise limited to the one nerdy character. It’s interesting, considering the first film’s impact on the genre, skyrocketing it to a much more mainstream affair, the characters are written in a way that is evident of this fact. There are still some folks that remain ignorant of the more obscure titles in horror history, but more and more kids are educating themselves in the art of the fright flick. In this new day and age, even sexy bad-girl types can have a nasty little horror collection.
The returning cast also fit into the story nicely. At no point does it feel cheesy, or tacked on that they’re intertwined into the chaos along with the new group of highschool kids. The natural progression of each character was believable. Dewey was made sheriff of the town, and Gale, loving him as she does, chose to stay in small town hell with him. This leads to her having absolutely nothing to write about, so when the killings begin, it sparks that old flame, and she sees an opportunity to both help solve the case, and get back on top by writing about it. Sydney is still the emotional mess that she always has been, but this time when her and Gale meet again she is the big rockstar on a book tour, rather than her.
One surprising aspect of the film is the sheer brutality. The Scream films aren’t exactly known for their highly visceral violence. It was surprising to see the level of gore that was implemented into the kills. Sure, it was an R rated flick, but the previous three weren’t bloodbaths, in any sense of the word. Now, some of you more hardened veterans of the genre, don’t let your bloodlust get into overdrive. It’s brutal and gory by mainstream slasher standards. Don’t go into the theater expecting it to compare to the likes of A Serbian Film, or Inside, as it’s not going to happen. All I’m saying is that, several of the kills are far more vicious and bloody than you would expect from a Scream movie.
There are surely going to be some that disagree with me. In fact, another writer here at The Liberal Dead and myself have already been discussing our differences of opinion on facebook while I write this review. But even though he doesn’t feel as strongly about the flick as I do, he still agrees that it’s a much better film than Scream 3. The beauty of this new sequel is that it’s not going to be a love it/hate it type of situation. There will be people that love this film, but it still has the ability to rope in viewers that will find things to enjoy, even if they aren’t as crazy about it as some others. It was a big hit in my eyes, even though it looks like it may end up being a box office failure. It had everything I could have possibly wanted in a sequel and more. It has even sparked enough interest in me to watch the original films in their newly released Blu Ray format, to see if I can possibly find a new appreciation, when originally there was none what soever. I have a feeling, even if it flops opening weekend, that word of mouth will spread that it’s not as bad as everyone dreads, and it will either pick up in a week or two, or at the very least, find a huge following when it’s released to DVD and Blu Ray. Any of you that know me at all though, will know that a recommendation to watch a Scream movie, coming from me, means a hell of a lot. I’ve talked a lot of shit about this series, a lot of which is probably undeserved, but I can say with confidence that there is no reason that you shouldn’t catch Scre4m in theaters. Even if you aren’t as impressed as I am, chances are you might have a little fun.
Be sure to check out Ted’s review over at The Blood Sprayer