Starring: Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox-Arquette, David Arquette, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Rory Culkin, Erik Knudsen, Nico Tortorella, Marielle Jaffe, Marley Shelton, Alison Brie, Mary McDormand, Adam Brody, Anthony Anderson, Anna Paquin, Kristen Bell and Roger Jackson.
Running Time: 111 mins. Approx.
Seen at: The Trafford Centre’s Odeon Cinemas.
On: Thursday, 5th May, 2011.
In 1996, horror veteran Wes Craven, who made his name with a plethora of terrifying horror classics such as The Last House On The Left, The Hills Have Eyes, Friday The 13th and Nightmare On Elm Street, completely remade and reinvigorated the tired slasher genre that was once so popular with such milestones as John Carpenter’s 1978 seasonal babysitter shocker Halloween.
Scream, like Jamie Lee-Curtis before her, made a scream-queen out of Neve Campbell as Sydney Prescott, an unsuspecting teenager who falls victim to being stalked by a masked serial-killer, known elusively only as ‘Ghostface’...
From the moment Drew Barrymore picked up that fateful phone in the opening sequence and heard the chilling catchphrase – ‘What’s your favourite scary movie?’, Craven solidified Ghostface as an instantly iconic killer of the classic horror-movie cannon, in a similar mould to Freddy Kruger and Micheal Myers.
The most distinctive watermark that makes the Scream franchise so unique is the fact that its screenplays are constantly referencing the movies throughout , both visually, and in their dialogue. There’s endless talk of body counts, remakes and sequels. Craven is so refreshing in the method he utilises in approaching his audiences. He’s saying that we already know all of the conventions of the genre, so he then delights in usurping each one of them. Phones ring, doors creek ajar and shadows lurk outside windows, but always, never in the way we expect.
Lines like: ‘I’ll be right back!’ and ‘The five things you must do to survive a horror movie are…’, are constructed in such a way as to make the characters think they’re almost in a movie of their own.
Scream also has the admirable distinction of being the only horror franchise that is actually just as funny and clever as it is scary or gory, with audiences screaming and laughing in equal measure – a notoriously difficult conceit to accomplish. It does this in such a way that strikes a pitch-perfect balance between always being just light-hearted enough, with its tongue firmly in its cheek but always without descending into spoofery territory, such as the parody of the Scary Movie series, which are funny films in their own right and certainly have their place, but only if you’ve seen - and are a fan of – what they are parodying.
With this latest instalment, it’s ten years since the excessive events of Scream 3, and Sidney Prescott, now a life-coach author, chooses for some reason to return to her secluded hometown of Woodsbourghro – you’d have thought she’d have known better by now wouldn’t you?
No sooner has she arrived back, when the phone rings (what else?) only for Ghostface’s chilling tones to declare: ‘Welcome home Sidneeey, watch the preview of coming events’...
Because a decade’s past, of course technology has changed a great amount, so whereas the original trilogy had the distinct nineties zeitgeist of high-school lockers and house-phones, appropriately, this time around, Facebook, iphones, BlackBury’s apps and Twitter are all quickly established to reflect the apparent rise in social networking.
David Arquette is still Dewey Riley, officially the worst police officer in cinematic history, and his wife, formally news reporter Gale Weathers is now a struggling novelist. Suffice is to say, it’s not long before this latest gaggle of perfect-looking teenagers are gradually disposed of one by one...
In the now legendary pre-credits sequence, this one is particularly inventive as it sees three sets of teenagers each watching an instalment of the film’s very own movie franchise – Stab. It’s tantalisingly clever, as it completely fools us, subverting our expectations of what we think we’re watching, despite the fact that many of the purposefully clichéd conventions are still present in homage to the original, including a hapless victim’s particularly gruesome fate with an electric garage door.
Other Hitchcockian references are especially clever this time around as well, whether it be a Vertigo-like fall from a parking lot, or a mock-up of the foreboding, low-angle shot of the showerhead from Psycho’s iconic shower scene.
So clever, and just so much fun to watch. Here’s hoping there’s a fifth one soon...
Rating: * * * *