Scream 4 offers a disappointing climax

As a fan of horror movies, I absolutely loved Scream in 1996 and enjoyed Scream 2 a year later. Admittedly, I didn’t see Scream 3, owing to my firm belief that sequels get exponentially worse as the number of films increase. So in watching Scream 4, my expectations were never particularly high. But despite my better judgement, part of me thought that there must be something keeping originals Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson returning for more after a ten year hiatus.

Scream 4 begins with Sidney’s (Campbell) return to her hometown, Woodsboro to promote her self-help book based on her experiences. Her return inevitably provokes an appearance from the infamous Ghostface Killer and thus, the fun starts.

As the opening sequence begins, I desperately cling to the hope that after 15 years, Drew Barrymore’s infamous performance can somehow be outdone. Unfortunately, the chosen formula appears to be ‘more famous actresses and more gore,’ which squarely misses the mark. Absence of personal attachment owing to limited character development leaves no room for the most important aspect of any decent horror film, suspense. Ultimately, I am left tiredly waiting, even hoping, for each beauty to die so the movie can truly begin.

Despite all this, as the film progresses, I find myself engrossed, thanks in part to the standout performances from Hayden Panettiere and Emma Roberts. Both are surprisingly convincing and engaging female leads, much welcomed after the myriad of one-dimensional blondes in the opening sequence.

On top of this, Kevin Williamson’s writing is genuinely witty, and the constant and slightly over-the-top post-modern references to slasher-flick conventions are enjoyable for anyone with an appreciation of the genre. To quote character Charlie (Rory Culkin), “There are still rules, but the rules have changed. The unexpected is the new cliche.” Through this assertion, the film manages to avoid predictability…or does it? Gale (Courteney Cox) sums it up perfectly in mild humour, “That’s so meta.” Add to this the numerous red herrings scattered throughout, Scream 4 manages to leave the viewer guessing until the end.

About the ending… without wishing to give to much away, Scream 4 was a witty, entertaining and gory addition to the Scream franchise unfortunately dragged to an entirely disappointing climax. Ultimately, I was left wanting to revisit the original 1996 film to remind myself what I love about a spine-tingling, cheesy slasher flick and thoroughly erase the memory of 111 minutes of proof that Hollywood doesn’t know when something needs to die.

Review by Celeste Macdonald