Fifteen years after the release of the clever and groundbreaking Scream, Wes Craven returns to the series that helped to redefine the slasher genre. The state of the Hollywood horror film has changed greatly since the mid-90s, with waxing and waning cycles of Asian horror and over-the-top splatter franchises. Scream 4 struggles in this new environment and never rises above the level of toothless, watered-down remake.
Although the original Scream series started strong and ended weak, there was a coherent, consistent narrative and the story came to a natural conclusion. Scream 4 is a forced return to a closed story and can’t help but feel unnecessary and contrived. The three main characters from the first series sleepwalk through the plot, serving as a weak reminder of more interesting times.
Much of the style and humour from the original film is gone, with a string of gratuitous film references and social media shoehorned into a tired setting. Self-reflexivity and meta-filmic in-jokes take the place of complex characterisation and interesting plot twists. Craven’s always been an interesting filmmaker but his style is lost here, creepy sequences and interludes replaced with familiar camerawork and vanilla editing.
There are glimpses of an interesting film in Scream 4 but it’s ultimately an overly safe and dull remake of a genre-breaking classic.