Scream 4

In the decade that has passed since the previous entry, the
landscape has changed greatly for horror films. Gone are the sly, self-aware
semi-parodies that the original “Scream” birthed; in vogue is the
so-called “torture porn” of the “Saw” series. In its
opening scenes, “Scream 4″ uses this to its advantage, poking fun at the
new kid, saying that approach is grotesque, but not frightening, so if you want
to see something really scary, stay tuned.

Well, the only thing that raised my pulse was a car running
a stop sign. Perhaps today’s high school audience at which this overdue sequel
is aimed will have a different reaction, having grown up with the smartphone
and webcam technology the movie uses as a crutch. If so, they should take some
tips from some of its secondary characters — the film geeks played by Hayden
Panettiere (TV’s “Heroes”), Erik Knudsen (“Beastly”) and
Rory Culkin (“Twelve”) — and dig into the likes of
“Suspiria” and “Don’t Look Now” to see what true scary
movies are.

Because this isn’t it. Neve Campbell, David Arquette and
Courteney Cox return yet again, as does Ghostface, the slasher underneath the
Edvard Munch-inspired Halloween mask. New, prettier cast members join them, but
the route director Wes Craven takes them is rote and predictable, because Kevin
Williamson’s script doesn’t ask them to go anywhere else.

In fact, for all Williamson’s talk upfront, he delivers a
weak motive and more than a couple of cop-outs. Once more, the denouement goes
on far longer than necessary — too much, too late. —Rod Lott

Rod Lott

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