By Dylan Hardcastle (Forster NSW, Australia)
When a horror movie franchise is rebooted ten years after its last chapter was released, you would expect it have a new look, a new perspective and, of course, a brand new set of scares. The horror reboot, Scream 4 – also stylised as SCRE4M – fails to disappoint. With plot twists, a fresh cast and a new terrifying sequence of killings, the fourth chapter of the Scream franchise leaves it viewers hungry for more.
To those of you out there that haven’t seen the previous Scream films, the plot of the series is about a mask-wearing serial killer who emerges and targets the young Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) and her friends Dewey Riley (David Arquette) and Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) in each film. Director Wes Craven (Scream, A Nightmare on Elm Street, My Soul to Take) redefines the horror genre and gives a whole new meaning to the word fear.
In classic slasher movies, there is always a killer out for blood and is pretty successful until the final showdown between the main character, frequently a female, and the killer themselves. All these kinda of horror movies follow a similar formula with certain rules:
– Don’t Answer the Phone
– Don’t Answer the Door
– Never Say “I’ll Be Right Back”
– Don’t Scream
It was Wes Craven’s intention with the Scream franchise to poke fun at these cliché horror movie rules and to exploit them in a way where the audience would be able to gain a new perspective on the horror genre, redefining the way they received it.
Scream focuses on the rules of a horror movie.
Scream 2 focuses on the rules of a horror sequel.
Scream 3 focuses on the rules of a horror trilogy.
Scream 4 places its sole purpose on how the rules change when a horror movie gets a remake.
Many believed that the fourth chapter of the franchise was just another way for producers and film companies to earn more money by rebooting a series that was accepted with record breaking results but the film set out with a purpose. Horror movies started to be remade so Scream came right back in with the purpose to redefine this genre of horror just as it did in its early days.
Picking up from where the third film left off, Scream 4 begins with a fresh new murder and with Sidney Prescott, now an author of a safe help book, returning to her home town of Woodsboro. While there, she reconnects with Sheriff Dewey Riley and ex-reporter Gale Weathers. Together and with fresh faces such as Emma Roberts and Hayden Panettiere, the trio must expose the killer and save themselves from a malicious death.
Scream 4 was able to create an intense and dark atmosphere within its first ten minutes of screen time. The use of everyday settings such as a kitchens and lounge rooms is an ensured way for the audience to connect to the characters in the story and to feel the same fear they are. What is scarier than being unsafe in your own home? Even the use of props such as ordinary kitchen knives and cellular phones bring in a sense of reality and nothing is too farfetched.
Death scenes in horror movies are very significant. They show which characters are unimportant and which ones are in the style they are killed and timing of when they are killed. Scream 4 follows its roots in poking fun at horror movies and the killings in this film are scary yet humorous at the same time. The audience is able to follow how the film pokes fun of the horror movie formula and enjoy themselves as well as having a decent fright fest.
The lines used by the characters are also able to build up the atmosphere and develop the characters. Unlike other horror movies, Scream 4 is able to build up a cast of characters that the audience can develop feelings for so when they are potentially killed off, they are sad and shocked to see some of their favourites go… or to be revealed as the killer. Each character in the film has their own unique personality and no character is alike. With such a wide variety of cast and excellent character development, it is hard to be able to guess who exactly the killer is or at the least try and figure out who has enough motive to be the mysterious killer. This leaves the audience with not only an entertaining film but also with a game of ‘Cluedo’ as the film plays out.
The killer in the film is, of course, the main element that the plot can’t survive without. The killer in Scream 4 – nicknamed Ghostface – is nothing special or even unusual. They are human and can be killed with mortal instruments. This is another way the film connects with the audience’s feelings of fear by using a realistic killer that kills people in realistic circumstances. Even placing the killings in everyday places that people usually feel safe in.
Scream 4 is a successful reinvention of the horror genre and deserves recognition in this field of film. As modern day horror film, Scream 4 utilises its era and incorporates it into its story to give a fulfilling and satisfying time to its audience while also keeping in theme with its original predecessors.