“You Were My 90’s!”

As some of you may be aware, I am quite the Scream fanatic. It was really the movie that got me into the genre, and I’ve seen all the films in the franchise so far. Naturally, I had to actually bust out my wallet and go see Scream 4 in theaters.

. . . yeah, it had some problems. But I’m still glad I went to see it.

Note:

Until the Spoiler Section towards the end of review, there will be no spoilers for any of the Scream films. After that, all bets are off.

Summary:

Ten years have passed. Sidney (Neve Campbell) is all grown up now, with a memoir/self help book to boot. She returns to Woodsboro to promote said book, but unfortunately, Ghostface ruins everything by starting to kill people again. Ghostface can often be inconsiderate that way.

Notes:

1. One of the things I do like about this film is the basic premise. Usually, a sequel that takes place well over a decade after the last film is a bad idea—after all, who really wants to see their badass hero as a balding guy with bad knees?

This may be the only exception.

But in a horror series—especially one as pointedly self-aware as the Scream series—the idea of seeing what the survivors’ lives are like a decade later is kind of interesting to me. And while I like examining the horror from multi-generational viewpoints, I’m even more interested in the question that drives this film: is Sidney still the heroine? Or is her time as heroine finished now?

2. That all being said . . . there are times that the script’s self-awareness actually hurts the film. The biggest problem with this movie is that the plot feels a little thin, that instead of taking the time to really form a solid three-act story, Kevin Williamson instead wrote a ton of meta humor and substituted it for a second act. The beginning of Scream 4 is relatively strong, and the ending is pretty strong too, but somewhere in the middle there, the film falters under the weight of too many jokes and not enough structure. Gale’s storyline, in particular, seems exceptionally weak and underdeveloped.

The glorious thing about the first Scream is that it’s both funny and scary, that it can talk about the horror genre while still being a part of that genre. But although Ghostface tells one soon-to-be-victim that, “This isn’t a comedy; it’s a horror,” Scream 4 really isn’t much of a horror movie. Yes, it’s got the stabbing and the blood and a certain amount of gore, but while it certainly brings the funny, it fails to even remotely bring the fear. Unless you’re exceptionally easy to rattle, you’re not going to be frightened of Scream 4. It’s just not a scary movie, period.

3. Surprisingly, though, I still did really enjoy watching Scream 4. Though it doesn’t live up to the first film, it is certainly not the worst movie in the franchise. (That would be Scream 3.)

One of the bright spots in the movie, surprisingly, is Hayden Panettiere as popular girl/horror geek, Kirby.

Sometimes, I have to remind myself that you can’t judge an actor’s work solely on their participation in Heroes. Heroes might have started out great, but it quickly devolved into a total crazytown show, and disliking Panettiere simply because Claire was often annoying as shit isn’t really fair to the actress. (Besides, I did enjoy her work in Shanghai Kiss. I found her enthusiasm sort of refreshing.) And out of all the teens in this film—including Rory Culkin, who I actually like—she’s easily the standout in Scream 4. She certainly outshines Emma Roberts in every scene they have together. Not that Emma Roberts is horrible, mind you. Panettiere is just better.

4. Although, while I’m talking about the younger generation of Scream 4 characters . . . look, it’s a well-established fact that teenagers are often idiotic and will do idiotic things, no matter how dangerous or ridiculous they are. Sometimes. But there are limits to people’s idiocy, and Scream 4 pushes those limits over the edge . . . and then jumps on top of them a few times for good measure.

The kids in the first Scream were dumb for going to a big party when there’s a psycho murderer about, yes. But the kids in Scream 4 seem like they’re on a collective mission to earn a Darwin’s Award for their entire generation. And while I hate to even bring up realism in a film like this . . . it might be nice if one of the younger kids at least acknowledges that something is a bad idea before plunging headfirst into lunacy.

5. In their defense, though, Stabathon does look like a lot of fun. I should host a drinking game to a series of horror movies sometime. Hmmmm . . .

6. Without giving anything away, there’s a part towards the very beginning of the movie that is AWESOME and easily the most surprising part of the whole film. (The Big Reveal at the end of the movie? I actually do like it . . . but I don’t know that I would call it surprising, exactly. It could have been, but somehow it’s just . . . not. More on that later.)

7. I also really like Alison Brie as Rebecca, Sidney’s publicist. She’s completely hilarious and bitchy and awesome. I just looked Brie up on imdb and found out that she’s in this show I keep hearing about, Community. Between her and the Levar Burton clip I recently saw, I may have to give this show a chance.

8. On the other hand, I don’t care much about Marley Shelton’s role at all. Not that she does a bad job, acting wise, but as the by-the-book, completely lovestruck, and kind of scary small town cop, she’s really very annoying, and her half-assed subplot with Dewey and Gale sort of detracts from the rest of the movie. The time the writers spent on them, they could have spent on making the story better.

9. Dewey’s kind of welcome change, though. While still not exactly the brightest bulb in the building, Dewey has grown up over the past ten years and is apparently no longer the village idiot. That’s very nice to see, actually.

10. But then again . . . excuse me, writers, but did you not see Mary McDonnell in Battlestar Galactica? The woman is a tremendously talented actress . . . why are you wasting her abilities this way?

11. There are, naturally, a lot of good quotes in Scream 4, and I do not remember half of them now. But here are some of them, at least:

Dewey: “One generation’s tragedy is the next one’s joke.”

Kirby: “I’m Kirby, by the way. I’m their friend.”
Deputy Judy: “And the killer didn’t call you?”
Kirby: “No. Is that a bad thing? Does that mean I’m not going to live as long as these two?”

Trevor: “Anyway, what are you doing in same house as Sidney Prescott? That’s like being in Top Chef with Jeffrey Dahmer.”

Killer: “Name the remake of the groundbreaking—”
Kirby: “Halloween, Texas Chainsaw, Dawn of the Dead, The Hills Have Eyes, Amityville Horror, Black Christmas, House of Wax, Prom Night, My Bloody Valentine! It’s one of those, right?”

Sidney: “You forgot one rule of the remake: don’t fuck with the original.”

12. Finally, my sister and I saw this movie in a theater that only had about seven other occupants. Five of them were giggly teenage girls and two of them were horny teenage guys who were talking about the giggly teenage girls.

This annoyed me at first. But . . . they weren’t quite as bad during the movie as I thought they were going to be, and, well, it was only fitting for an audience of a movie like Scream 4. Mek and I were both teenagers when we first saw Scream (okay, technically, I might have been eleven, but like Rebecca says to Gale, “You were my 90’s!”) and now we’re the old ones, and these idiots are the new blood.

And like Dolly Parton says in a very non-horror related movie, Steel Magnolias: “Time marches on, and eventually you realize it’s marching across your face.”

There are worse things, I suppose.

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

Okay, first off: the intro starts with two girls being murdered by Ghostface . . . only to reveal that this is Stab 6, and Anna Paquin and Kristen Bell are on the couch watching it.

Anna Paquin starts bitching about how stupid these meta horror movies are, how nothing in them is ever surprising, and right when you assume Ghostface is about to make his first real appearance, Kristen Bell takes a knife to Anna Paquin’s stomach, asking, “Are you surprised?” And when Anna Paquin asks, “Why?” Kristen Bell tells her, “Because you talk too much.”

HA! Man, I LOVE you, Kristen Bell! She nails this delivery, all awesome and menacing and funny in her bit part here in Scream 4 . . . or should I say Stab 7. (This cuts away to another two girls on the couch watching this. It’s all a little silly, but Veronica Mars killing Sookie Stackhouse makes the whole thing worthwhile, honestly.) I desperately want to see Kristen Bell do something fun again.

Anyway, so then the REAL two girls get killed, and the action can begin. Gale is wounded halfway into the film because her storyline sucks (and because she’s a bit of an idiot) and the real “bloodbath” happens at Kirby’s house after Stabfest. It turns out that Charlie (Rory Culkin) is one of the killers, a fact that Kirby finds out after he stabs her to death. This is a little sad because, as I said, Kirby is easily the best teen character here.

As a film geek himself, Charlie is, naturally, equated to Randy from the original Scream, but Randy is kind of oddly endearing, a quality that Charlie just doesn’t quite have. He and Robbie (Erik Knudsen) are both funny, but neither are nearly as awesome as Jamie Kennedy. When Randy was killed in Scream 2, I was so bummed that I hated the movie for years. (I’ve more or less made my peace now.) When innocent Robbie is bumped off, however, I don’t care. At all. Scream 4 jabs at modern horror movies for killing off characters that no one gives a shit about, but I have to say, Kirby was the only death that even remotely bothered me. Everyone else . . . eh. I didn’t know any of them. I didn’t care.

Of course, Charlie is not the only killer. The other bad guy is . . . Jill, Sidney’s niece.

Jill asks Sidney if she’s surprised, and clearly this is supposed to be quite the shocking turn of events, but unlike Kristen Bell suddenly pulling out a knife . . . it’s just not that surprising, somehow.

The first Scream is much more of a murder mystery than this latest film in the bunch. There’s no suspense in Scream 4, no tension or mistrust. When Emma Roberts is revealed, it’s just sort of . . . oh, okay.

Despite this lack of mystery, though, I do actually like Jill as the bad guy—anyway, I like the idea that the killer is Sidney’s niece, but the murders aren’t about getting back at her. Unlike everyone else in the series, Jill doesn’t want revenge on Sidney; she wants to become her for the fame, the glory. Basically, she’s a media-obsessed little whore who’s willing to kill a lot of people for worldwide adoration.

And Emma Roberts does okay with the acting—she sells some lines a lot more than others—but I couldn’t help wishing that a stronger actress had been in her part. Jill’s cool . . . but she could have been so much cooler.

Anyway, Jill kills Charlie (more spotlight for herself), seemingly kills Sidney, and then launches herself face first into a mirror. She also stabs herself and falls backward onto a glass table. (Almost jumps onto it, actually. Jill shows a lot of dedication in her work.) When the cops come, everyone assumes that she is a victim, and the media goes wild for her, just like she planned. It seems like Jill’s about to live happily ever after . . . except that Sidney (not unlike Michael Myers) just won’t fucking die. Jill is forced to try and murder Sidney in the ICU, and with an assist from Dewey, Gale, and Deputy Judy, Sidney is finally able to kill Jill. (Defibrillators to the head! Yes!) (Also, I like that no one in the original trilogy dies. Not that I would have been heartbroken if they did. I just like that idea: it’s not only bad guys that can be immortal.)

The film ends with Sidney somewhat creepily telling Jill’s corpse, “I don’t know about you, but I feel a lot better,” and a shot of Jill’s dead body as the media talks about what a brave new heroine she is. It’s a good end (and a very good final shot) but like I said before, the film falters too much in the middle to be entirely a success.

Then again, anything’s better than Scream 3, right?

Tentative Grade:

B

Moral:

Don’t fuck with the original.

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8 Responses to “You Were My 90’s!”

  1. Susan says:

    i liked it too, not scary at all, loved Kirby, pissed at the lack of funny Adam Brody, i noted Gale and Dewey’s lack of chemistry and crap story line in my own livejournal, yes yes yes.

    • Yeah, Adam Brody was kind of wasted too. I never really watched The O.C. but I liked him in both Gilmore Girls and Thank You For Smoking. Definitely a small part in TYFS but a GOOD small part, you know?

      • Susan says:

        yes. TYFS is great (rob lowe is also awesome in that), not sure if you’re a Jennifer’s Body hater, but I actually loved that movie, and he was perfectly cast, and In The Land Of Women is one of my favorite “chick flicks”, when I usually hate them, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I just really like him.
        I watched some of the O.C when that was new. I remember it was huge, and it was like “must see”. I was a little older than the target age group, but a group of us decided to watch anyway. We didn’t like it, and talked way too much, and drank the whole time. I remember once we were watching, not paying attention, and realized that the neighbor’s house was going up in flames. Naturally we turned off the tv…
        I ended up renting it when I worked at Blockbuster, and got addicted. I spent an entire summer just watching every single season(there are only 4 and the 4th one sucks). It turned out that all of our chatter my friends and I had and random paying attention had me hearing what I thought was horrible lines, but were actually funny as hell, and completely out of context. The show is actually really funny, and I ended up liking it more than Beverly Hills 90210, which was my all time favorite rediculous teen night time soap(at least until Shannon Doherty left!)
        I don’t know why I’m writing soooooooo much about it, but everybody I know knooooooooows that I LOVE The O.C. I’m pretty psycho about it. I feel the need to spread the word, and clearly I have nobody to talk to!
        Sorry.

  2. Yeah, Rob Lowe is pretty awesome in Thank You For Smoking.

    I remember reading some quotes from The O.C. that seemed pretty funny. If I remember correctly, they were almost all from Adam Brody. At some point, I probably could try it out. I have liked ridiculous teen soaps in the past. I was also addicted to Beverly Hills 90210 (the original, obviously) in my time. (Although, I think my time started pretty young. I watched it with my mom and sister, and when it started in 1990, I was five. I loved Luke Perry and his angst from a very young age : )

    • Susan says:

      I was not allowed to watch BH90210, but my brother watched it every week, as it was his favorite show, and I usually watched it anyway. I was 8, and he was around 13. Anyway, I remember specific episodes my mom let me watch with them, even though the entire time she’d be saying it was inappropriate for me. My friend Jenny had peach colored 90210 sneakers similar to chuck taylor’s…and everybody in gym class seemed to have the perfume, but me.
      We had a Dylan poster in the upstairs between our rooms(it was only bedrooms, no adults, no bathrooms, no hallway). I wrote to Tori Spelling
      and received a signed(not really! fake marker signature) post card, which until recently I still had. I lent it to a friend for teeny weeny prank she was playing on her boyfriend a few years ago, and have not gotten it back.

      The O.C is pretty funny. It was soapy drama but a lot of witty writing, sarcasm and silly stuff. It only sucked during season 4. One of the the things I liked about it, this might’ve been on the commentary which I watched ’cause I’m a geek, is that if the actors said something stupid, silly, idiotic, or repeated certain words a lot on the set, the writers would work it in the story, and not tell the actor’s until they got their script. So for example if Adam Brody said something everybody thought was so stupid, not funny at all, or corny, they’d write the line into his script for the next episode to make him say it again 3 times or 10 times…whatever. Once i knew this, I started noticing it, and was able to pick out some of the lines.
      It’s so good! The writers are well aware of what the show is, and that made it even better.

    • Susan says:

      if you feel like diving into the O.C, out of hopeless boredom one night?, with out making a major commitment, i have a solution.
      i found season 2 episodes free on hulu.com. this is kind of a show where you should see at least the first episode if not all of season 1, but you can certainly pick something out that looks interesting on hulu and give it a go. stay clear of anything with “tray”(or “trey” not sure) in the description because he’s an annoying impermanent characther that can’t be tolerated unelss you see the backstory.

  3. bsg_aussiegirl says:

    Great review. I went to see this simply because I’m a Mary McDonnell fan. I sobbed all night at her lack of scenes. I’ve seen pictures on the internet of her shooting more, so they obviously cut them. grrr…. Maybe the ‘horror’ part was the way they did to her hair?

    Totally agree with you about the Kirby character. She was so kick ass. I adored every scene she was in and YES! I was really upset when she was murdered. And her death was stupid. The whole way through she was the only one with brains, and then suddenly, she walked straight into the knife basically. WTF?

    • Yeah, that was definitely not good hair 🙂

      I really want Mary McDonnell to be in new projects. This was the last thing I’ve seen her in, and it was such an inconsequential role. I want to see her get to be awesome again.

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