Scream ★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Devastatingly, I was disappointed by this. My all time favorite movie is Scream, Ready or Not is in my top 10 favorites and Scream 4 is my favorite sequel featuring my favorite ghostface. Because of all these things, this was my most anticipated movie since it was first announced, and I was so convinced that I would wholeheartedly love it because of everything it had going for it. 

I don’t know if it’s better or worse that I don’t hate it or dislike it, I actually think I like it, but the fact that it somehow came so close to being truly excellent but didn’t for me was what made it so disappointing. I really did love a lot about this but there were too many things that bothered me or I couldn’t really connect with.

Starting with the pros, this is without a doubt the most brutal, gory and inventive installment when it came to the kills and attacks. This is definitely reminiscent of Ready or Not’s well balanced violence, suspense and comedy. Moments like Tara getting stabbed through the hand and then subsequently having to injure it while trying to escape in a wheelchair, as well as Liv’s very sudden death, all were particular highlights that made it feel like a Bettinelli-Olpin/Gillett film. And speaking of, it has some of my favorites seuquences in the franchise with the aforementioned hospital attack and the Judy/Wes double murder. 

On the other hand, there were too many moments that felt over the top with the meta commentary, particularly with the issue that unlike Mindy being the sole horror nerd, most characters make similar comments and feel equally involved and aware that feels like they just want to make as many references and iconic lines as possible. This problem directly correlates with what might just be my biggest problem; the killer’s motive is really fucking stupid.

This is not the first time that an wareness of film and social media directly influence the plot and motives of the different ghostfaces. Mickey, Jill and Charlie are all great examples of how to do this right. Meanwhile all the other killers are simply fueled by some sort of revenge (except for Stu which still feels like a wildcard). Scream 4 especifically manages the idea of using murder as a channel of a psychotic obsession with fame and social media. The problem is that the reddit forum motive (which also parallels Mrs. Loomis and Mickey’s meeting through a dark web forum), feels too weak and irrelevant for the era, unlike the great timing of the social media rise that Scream 4 took advantage of. Not only is it stupid, bland and unimpressive, but it also feels extremely self congratulatory by attempting to create a form of a Catch-22 with the audience. Because this was a “requel” (which is referenced in a rather obnoxious manner) they knew that public opinion from the fans was vital but probably a little polarized from fans that disagree with a fifth film, particularly without Wes, and subsequently decide to make the killers crazy upset fans that didn’t like the latest installment of Stab. Thinly veiled self aware references are not new in Scream, and are in fact vital, but this time it really felt like it was made by people who were accutely aware of the expectations the followed the project and needed to desperately acknowledge this elephant in the room constantly as a sort of self defense which would trapped critics in it’s own criticism.

It’s difficult to pinpoint when the meta commentary in a Scream film works and when it doesn’t, but either way to me it just felt like it was off and because every moment of subtext was recurringly referenced, it ends up only having text. 

Another big problem I had were the very undeveloped characters. I’m not sure if this has a larger main cast than the other films but it does feel like it. Half the cast were unengaging and not someone to particularly root for or feel sad about. A big example is Vince which appears in about two scenes. I know that he’s not a very important character, but one off victims like Cici, Principal Arthur, Kenny, Olivia and Maureen, are all given enough time to feel real and easy to root for despite only having a couple scenes before getting killed. Vince’s death is very quick, brief and ultimately unimportant, especially considering that it’s actually the first murder of the film. This is at its most noticeable when they reveal that Amber is one of the killers, which is sadly an incredibly uninteresting and easily forgettable character throughout the film. Meanwhile, Richie is a rather interesting character, with a good balance between suspicious elements as well as misdirections and fake innocent moments. He would be one of my favorite killers if like I mentioned before, the motive wasn’t so terrible.

A couple of other things that bother me is the gimmick of having the victims be related to OGs which is dropped really quick, as well as Sam’s Billy hallucinations whick are honestly not as interesting or relevant as they should be (although I was very happy at the Skeet cameos which I wasn’t expecting).

Sespite this, the Tara/Sam emotional core was really well fleshed out and mantained throughout, and Jenna Ortega’s Tara is the best performance of the film by far. Sidney feels very sidelined and like a glorified cameo despite its extreme importance at the end. I know that this one was to mainly introduce the younger characters but even when Scream 4 did this she was still a very relevant main character who kept developing and growing. I also feel like there where way too many survivors for some reason, two of them were just left for dead only to not be dead and it’s probably the reason Vince even exists to just increase an underwhelming body count.

I know that I talked about the things I disliked a lot more than the ones I liked which probably makes it look like I actually hated it, buf I honestly just don’t feel the need to talk about all the great things that everyone else is already raving about. Tara is a great character with a great performance, there were many fun easter eggs throughout, the kills were brutal and exhilarating, Richie was a very decent ghostface overall, Neve, David and Courtney are unsurprisingly fantastic and the hospital, the hicks double and Liv’s death scenes are this film at its best and easily a additions to the most memorable scenes of the series. I’m definitely gonna rewatch it and I really hope to like it better the next time around without having such high expectations that probably led to such a disappointment from a rather fine fun film.

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