January 12, 2012

It’s a sorry state of affairs when the scariest thing about Scre4m is the price of admission (€11) plus a drink and some popcorn(€12) at Cineworld.

Set ten years after the events of the last installment of the franchise “Angel of Death” Sidney Prescott has returned to scene of the original crimes, the last stop on her book tour and the first stop on her road to a new life. Like J.B.  Fletcher before her everywhere she goes people die. Other people. And as soon as she steps foot in Woodsboro it starts all  over again. The killings and the regurgitation of the same old story lines.

Hence Prescott reunites with Deputy-now Sherrif- ‘Dewey’ Riley and his wife Gail Weathers(Courtney Cox) who are having marital problems-again. There’s another woman, again, Mary Shelton’s Deputy Judy taking over from Parker Posey’s Scream 3 Primma Donna, one of a number of dumb ass cops making it easy for Ghostface to slice and dice with their “oh come on” ineptitude(Anthony Anderson, Adam Brody).

The film geeks have multiplied also, Hayden Panettiere, Rory Culkin and Erik Knudsen going where Jamie Kennedy and Timothy Olyphant have thread much more engagingly in previous films, while Emma Roberts (as the virginal lead), Nico Tortorella (her dark and brooding ex) and Alison Brie(the careerist bitch) complete the trope.

While this movie manages to be occasionally more funny than the Scary Movie franchise that was set up to satirise it  the constant cannibalisation of the series and the genre grows tired-fast. The reduction of characters to simple red herrings or carnage candy means that you derive no pleasure or pain from their offing, particularly since their isn’t a single kill carried out by Ghostface that ups the ante of the first three films. (In fact, the only chill I got was from from Courtney Cox’s cosmetic enhancement, so comicaly botched she often passes for WGhostface herself). As one character puts it “It’s just body parts ripping and blood spewing.”

Kevin Williamson never utilises his more seasoned performers. Neve Cambell spends the entire movie running about shrieking, answering phones and generally doing things that a survivor of three previous assaults should not(she’s even written the book on it for christ sake) while Courtney Cox is a shell of the character we know and love to hate. She still storms about, knocking out the old put downs, but her characters sidelining makes no sense and what could have been an interesting sub plot-having Gail go rouge- peters out unsatisfactorily.

There isn’t a genuine scare in the entire movie and in failing to jump start the series by having anyone-including the stalwarts- seem like a suspect hampers the suspense. The constant refrencing of “the rules” sees the movie cling to one aspect of the series without developing the characters or the story in the way they did in Screams 1 & 2, making it more of a cross to bear than a crutch to lean on.

It’s by no means as bad as the fourth installment of most series, yet Scre4m has nothing new to say about the genre it has previously mocked so well and with nobody new left alive to push the series forward I can’t see how this is the start of a new trilogy as promised(threatened).


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