Friday, April 22, 2011

Review: "Scream 4" knows it's a sequel, is just bad enough to be one.

The problem with the Scream series, what with its self-aware, movie-within-a-movie construct, is that it allows itself to wallow in the generalities and clich├ęs of its genre, feeling less like a slasher-film deconstruction and more like a reconstruction, or recycling, if you will. 
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Wes Craven's Scream 4 is certainly playful and bloody and a little bit humorous, but its meta-movie circumvention is so precarious and, by now, exhausting, that halfway through its "when is this going to end?" running-time, the film has managed to shove its head thoroughly up its own ass. 
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More characters answering phones ("Who is this?"), more doofus policeman work, more geeky cinephile teenagers (plausibly parentless) who sip from red cups and discuss the rules of horror, theory, blah, blah, blah. Though this time, the film attempts to balance, rather awkwardly, the "old generation" of Woodsboro (Neve Campbell, Courtney Fox) with the "new" (Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere). 
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The film does, to its credit, address any issues of antiquity, bringing the "slasher film" into the 21st century, introducing social media, generational divide, internet immortality and the child-like allure of Youtube fame. (Although the central cast of young tweeners - twenty-something teens - cripples when it's needed the most to sell a third-act megaton of a twist). 
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Ultimately, through all of its self-sustained talk about the progression and transformation of sequels and reboots, Scream 4 is ironically brought down by the same thing that claims other less tongue-in-cheek sequels: serving up the same stuff we've already seen and at the same time, far too much of it. [C] 

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