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In Scream 4, Sidney Prescott, now the author of a self-help book, returns home to Woodsboro on the last stop of her book tour. There she reconnects with Sheriff Dewey and Gale, who are now married, as well as her cousin Jill (played by Emma Roberts) and her Aunt Kate (Mary McDonnell). Unfortunately Sidney’s appearance also brings about the return of Ghost Face, putting Sidney, Gale, and Dewey, along with Jill, her friends, and the whole town of Woodsboro in danger.
The newest installment in the acclaimed franchise that ushered in a new wave of horror in the 1990s is written by series creator Kevin Williamson and directed by suspense master and director of the first trilogy, Wes Craven. The film stars Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Rory Culkin, Anthony Anderson, Adam Brody, Mary McDonnell, Marley Shelton, Nico Tortorella, Marielle Jaffe, Kristen Bell, Anna Paquin, Lucy Hale, Shanae Grimes, Aimee Teegarden and Brittany Robertson.
Wes Craven Commentary for Feature and Deleted Scenes
“Making Of…” Featurette
Over 15 Deleted Scenes
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The fascination with prologs is getting stale (however precious they try to make them, here it's two previews for Stab 6 and 7). Naturally, the victims are chased through houses, and then stabbed. They do love a bad jump-scare (used to death on their gag reel too). But I did love seeing the gang back again (when did Dewey stop limping?). There was enough excitement to suit me. It's a keeper.
Celebrity victim Sidney Prescott, in a move to assert herself and take control of her life, has authored a self-help book, but maybe she ought not to have made her hometown of Woodsboro the final leg in her book tour. She definitely shouldn't have scheduled her appearance to coincide with the anniversary of the original killings in Woodsboro. Because here comes her old pal, the Ghostface Killer, and he's more stabby than before. SCREAM 4 boasts more kills than in any of the prior sCREAM movies. The ecstatic news media promptly dubs the new reign of terror the Woodsboro Massacre Reboot. And in the age of Facebook and Twitter and such, old Ghostface is now filming his murders.
The franchise still strives to play against expectations; it's still using horror cliches as its foil. The tone is still tongue-in-cheek, and we get a dusting off of the rules of survival in a horror film. The characters still let fly with the meta-references. Hell's bells, even the deputy cops on surveillance chat about the film cop's inevitably unhappy plight in horror films. But even with the hefty wink of the eye, Wes Craven consistently brings it back to the suspense. He hasn't lost that knack for making you jump out of your seat. And, as usual, I'm never really sure who'll make it thru. Even Sydney, who can teach a cockroach a thing or two about survival, doesn't seem a surefire bet to escape unscathed thru this new terrifying ordeal. The perception I got was that the film was introducing Emma Roberts (who plays Sidney's cousin Jill) as the new blood, possibly to take over the franchise, what with Neve Campbell having committed that most damnable of sins. She's let herself get older. Sidney is still very much the focus of Ghostface's ire. As the film progressed, I resigned myself that Ghostface may actually get it done this time. Meanwhile, Sidney is being dubbed as the "Angel of Death" because everyone around her seems to die while she doesnt. It's a messed-up homecoming.
The audio commentary reveals that David Arquette approached Wes Craven and suggested that, for this outing, maybe his Sheriff Dewey character can actually be good at his job. But Craven was having none of that. Dewey is still dependably clueless and bumbling. He and ex-reporter Gail Weathers have been married for ten years now, and Gail's career has gotten stuck in a rut, her great American novel still to be written. Thankfully, Ghostface's return allows her a chance to get her feet wet again in tabloid journalism. Courtney Cox always seems to be having fun in this plum role. Over a decade after we've last seen her, Gail is still ambitious and caustic and flirting with being unlikable. Except I really like Gail Weathers.
SCREAM 4 kicks off with a triple opening sequence, right away enveloping you in its self-aware film-within-a-film gimmick (with cameos by Anna Paquin, Kristen Bell, Aimee Teegarden, and other fine, fine women). We are informed that the STAB film franchise - based on Sidney's harrowing experiences - is alive and well and has now reached its sixth installment. And if you look close, there are homages made to the first SCREAM (which is still far and away the best of the bunch). Besides all the clever meta stuff, SCREAM 4 treats us to pretty smart storytelling and several sweet brutal kills (poor Aimee Teegarden, poor Anthony Anderson). And to demonstrate that Neve Campbell is still THE scream queen supreme in this franchise, she ends up with most kickasss f---you line in the film.
The DVD's bonus stuff:
- Audio Commentary with director Wes Craven and cast Emma Roberts, Hayden Panetiere, and with Neve Campbell phoning in from London
- 20 Deleted & Extended Scenes, including an Alternate Opening and an Extended Ending (with optional director's commentary, totaling 00:26:00 minutes)
- Gag Reel (00:09:16 minutes)
- The Making of SCREAM 4 (00:10:27 minutes)