SCREAM 4 revives all of our favorite slasher movie motifs and still manages to craft a few new surprises as veteran horror director Wes Craven launches another bloody roller coaster ride through the unlucky town of Woodsboro. The site of writer Kevin Williamson’s original SCREAM film, Woodsboro hosts a new group of familiar celebrity faces who openly discuss the clichés of popular horror movies while trying to outrun a killer. The success of the SCREAM franchise lies in the packaging of successful actors, wry dialog and innovative ways to die. This fourth installment of Craven’s three-picture deal proves there is still box office gold to be mined from the comedy / whodunit / horror genre.
A Florida Connection
SCREAM’s 1996 launch was inspired by a real American serial killer called “The Gainesville Ripper” who targeted five Florida college students during a gory 90′s crime spree.
Screenwriter Kevin Williamson is a fan of cult horror movies like Halloween (1978) and Friday the 13th (1980) which centered upon a group of hapless teens trying to escape a masked psychopath. Penned in the mid-1990s, the original script succeeded because it satirized the world of horror movies and brought the audience in on the joke.
A Veteran Director
Director Wes Craven created many iconic “Fright Night” classics including A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Hills Have Eyes and The Last House on the Left. Daring film audiences to dance between the worlds of dream and reality, Craven captures the essence of our deepest fears and then brings them to life with horrible consequences. Freddy Krueger, the razor-gloved slasher who stalks victims first in their dreams and then in their living rooms, remains one of Craven’s most memorable creations. Pairing a veteran horror filmmaker with an inspired writer determined to have his characters discuss how horror movies work while running from a killer proved to be a winning combination. SCREAM helped to raise the horror film genre from the dead to the tune of over $173 million at the box office for a $15 million dollar film. The four films brought in over $605 million.
The Fun Unfolds
The trajectory of the SCREAM series follows the character Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) from high school to college and in this last installment, she returns to Woodsboro to mark the anniversary of the original chop-em-up massacre. Facilitating her recovery from the traumas of surviving all the other SCREAMs, Prescott has written a self-help book and decides to make the scene of the crime the last stop on her book tour.
As luck would have it, our heroine reconnects with goofy Sheriff Dewey Riley (David Arquette) and her dear Aunt Kate (Mary McDonnell), but her return also awakens her notorious stalker Ghostface (Dane Farwell) who can’t wait to terrorize a whole new cast of remarkably pretty victims! Soon enough the phone starts ringing and the creepy-voiced killer takes his threatening crank calls to new levels of pain.
“Welcome Home Sydney! You’re a survivor… but what good is it to be a survivor if everyone close to you is DEAD!? ”
The 2011 version of Craven’s randy psycho thriller brings back Friends Courtney Cox and casts her into a sea of stab-inducing celebrity blondes including Emma Roberts, Kristen Bell, Heroes Hayden Panettiere, and True Blood’s Anna Paquin; familiar faces ready for a non-stop romp through all of the tricks and treats of the genre. Savvy teen crime fighters (Rory Culkin & Erik Knudsen) explain to Prescott how much more sophisticated the modern horror movie has become and as they bravely spell out the “New Rules of Horror,” Woodsboro Highschoolers start dropping like flies – some of them literally plummet from buildings!
Originally intended to be a horror trilogy, the secret to the success of SCREAM 4 is surely the upgrades in humor and the utter cleverness of the kill sequences as Craven and Williamson make fun of the entire slasher genre and mock the pretty teens who are forced to run from Ghostface. The idea of lampooning the clichés of horror while finding new ways to make people die is what keeps SCREAM fans returning to the box office over and over and over again. If the fourth time is the charm, it is because Craven makes the thrill of the chase, the false alarms and the gore of the final reel as entertaining as only he can.