Scream 4

Director - Wes Craven

Cast - Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courtney Cox

Country of Origin - U.S.

Discs - 1

MSRP - $34.99

Distributor - Anchor Bay Entertainment

Reviewer - Scott MacDonald

The Film (2.5/5)

     Scream 4 for all intents as purposes, from a narrative standpoint, has no reason to exist.  It is as average a theatrical horror movie as you are going to see this year.  It doesn't do anything to push the genre forward, and it does not do anything to push the story forward.  The characters who do survive are pretty much the same cardboard slasher movie cutouts they were at the beginning, and this includes the characters that came in from the prior films whom I thought had actually developed fairly 3 dimensional personas over the course of the prior trilogy.

     Scream 4 for all intents and purposes is a career booster of a film.  It's a film that was designed to make a quick buck for dimension, and to put it's leads back into the limelight (although from what I gather Courtney Cox has been doing some successful Non-Friends TV).  It also feels like an attempt to put Wes Craven's declining career on a form of life support.

     You may wonder then why did I even give it a 2.5, simply put, it is sort of entertaining.  It's the type of film you can shut your brain off and enjoy for the duration of it's running time as long as you do not expect anything more from it.  It has some enjoyable set pieces, and as my wife pointed out, it is interesting to see how this particular series advances with the technology present during the era when it's made. 

      This time for example living in an era with web cams, smart phones, and how this technology affects the plot of the movie.  In horror movies of the past, your phone line was cut, you were isolated, but now it's almost impossible to not be connected, and Scream 4 does a pretty good job showing that constant connection.  That being said it relies a little too heavily on the forgetfulness of the character's who always seem to be leaving their cell phones where the killer (or killers???) can get them.

     My biggest complaint in the film is in the ending, which I will try my damnedest not to spoil for those that haven't seen it.  I felt it could have been much darker, and actually much more satirical then it ended up being.  In the making of included with the disc Wes Craven describes the making of Scream 4 as something akin to a family reunion, and that I feel is the problem.  Wes was too comfortable making this film.  This isn't Wes Craven master of horror, making stuff that's meant to burn into your brain like Hills Have Eyes, Nightmare on Elm Street, or Last House on the Left.  This is Wes Craven making Vampire in Brooklyn, having a little fun, and collecting a paycheck, and it shows on screen. 

     If Wes and screenwriter Kevin Williamson, who I understand had the script taken away from him during production had gone a little more harder edged with the material, we may have had a classic along the lines of Scream 1, this is pretty much on the same tier as Scream 3, although it may actually be a little bit better than that film (no stupid cameo appearances ala Jay and Silent Bob).

     The film picks up 15 years after the original Woodsboro murders.  Sidney Prescott (Neve Cambell) is back in Woodsboro ending the book tour for her recently published best-selling self help book.  She soon reunites with Dewey and Gale.  Dewey is now the Sheriff of Woodsboro, and Gale is trying to write her first fiction novel.  While in town Sidney is staying with her Aunt, and cousin Jill.  Rather than a nice little reunion amongst family and friends another murderer (s) has decided to take up the ghostface mask, and stalk our favorite trio of longtime victims, and whomever else looks like good slasher fodder.  As the body count rises, it is up to Sidney, Dewey, Gale, and the local high school film society to solve the latest Woodsboro murders...


Audio/Video (4.5/5)

    Well the movie sucked, but at least it looked really really good.  In fact it's pretty damn gorgeous.  There is a nice little bit of grain reminding the viewer that we are indeed watching a film, black levels are nice and deep which is totally necessary for a film like this.  The colors really pop, and flesh tones are accurate.  The detail in the image is extremely rich.  It appears in the last year Anchor Bay has gotten really on top of their game as far as transfer for horror films go, granted Scream 4 is a recent film and doesn't need much in the way of restoration, but the image here is amazing.

    The audio track is similarly excellent.  Scream 4 is presented with a fantastic DTS-HD MA 5.1 English Audio track.  No audio imperfections can be heard anywhere on the track.  The mix is as close to perfect as you can get with the dialogue coming through quite clearly, and mixed appropriately with the music and sound effects.


Extras (2.5/5)

    Scream 4 has a pretty typical extras package, and really only a few things worth your time.  The main extra on the disc is a commentary track with Wes Craven, Hayden Panettiere, and Emma Roberts.  Neve Campbell appears, but she literally dials it in, and comments via her cell phone.  We then have a series of alternate, extended, and deleted scenes.  There are a few minor bits of interested here.  The most notable of which is the original opening scene, which, in my opinion, actually works much much better than what we were given and gives us a glimpse of the old Wes Craven magic.  Aside from that few of these scenes are of note, although a few do offer some emotional depth that isn't present in the final film. 

    We then have a 10 minute gag reel that doesn't offer anything of note, and is really only there for those that are really bored, or really want to see EVERYTHING Scream 4 related.  This is followed by a short featurette called The Making of Scream 4.  This is a typical promo making of with some interviews with the cast and crew, some scenes from the film.  They pretty much all praise the series, and give themselves a nice pat on the back.  However, one lien from director Wes Craven really gave me an insight into his mentality while making this film.  To paraphrase he said it was sort of like a family reunion, and the film feels just like that.  It like a group of friends got together after years apart, and decided to have some fun, but not to create something of any sort of substance.  The disc is rounded off with a chance to spend your hard earned dough, on the Scream 4 mobile phone game!  This set also includes a DVD and Digital Copy in case you needed to see Scream 4 on your DVD player or on the go.



    The more I think about it, the more I dislike Scream 4. It was more of a cash cow than a horror film, and did not bring anything new to the series.  There were a few fun kills, but considering it's pedigree it could have been much better.  I would rate it on par with Scream 3, but not better than Scream 2, and nowhere close to Scream. The transfer and audio work is excellent.  The extras are slim, and don't really offer any real insight into the film or any real extra entertainment value to the package.  Proceed with caution.