Scream no longer thrills in fourth installment

By Kristi Alexandra
[culture editor]

Grade: C+

We’re not sure what the Scream franchise is most famous for: its tittilating plots (ha!) or that from movies one to four, it has successfully chronicled the rise and fall of Courtney Cox and David Arquette’s marriage.

Taking the fourth instalment of the Scream movies, it’s clear that the latter is where the audience’s attention is.

From the beginning, Scream 4 is overtly self-referencing – using the meta-fictional “Stab” series to introduce short-lived characters like Lucy Hale, Kristin Bell and Anna Paquin.

The film is set during the  anniversary of “The Woodsboro Murders,” the events that the original Scream was based on. Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is back in town as a stop on her book tour as Ghostface strikes again, this time killing off Prescott’s younger cousin Jill’s (Emma Roberts) friends.

Jill quickly becomes the heroine of this story, as the plot is intertwined with the high-school students’ ongoing fascination with the Woodsboro Murders who are doomed to repeat history.

Director Wes Craven knows by now that a fourth remake of the same movie is overkill and so thumbs his nose at the audience with tidbits that say “Yeah, I know. We’re in on the joke.” The movie so obviously and effortlessly parallels the previous three that it’s impossible not to mention, but doesn’t apologize for its post-modern self-plagiarism.

Star Emma Roberts is a flat-note in the movie playing between big-wigs Cox and Campbell, while feisty sidekick Kirby (Hayden Panettiere) outshines every character in the endlessly predictable film.

Two goofy film club members chronicle the present events in Woodsboro as a helplessly aging and over-botoxed Gale Weathers (Cox) tries to team up with them to solve the murders and regain her title as the small town’s top journalist, all while struggling to keep her marriage with top-cop Dewey Riley (Arquette) alive – how fitting.

In a slight twist of events, the audience learns that Jill (Roberts) and one of the film club buffs are behind the murders, in an overall effort to finally nix Prescott and become the new Woodsboro survivor. The unsuccessful plan leaves Prescott, Weathers and Riley in the same position that they’ve been at the end of every previous Scream film: the three survivors of grave massacres in Woodsboro.

Ah, Craven, you’ve done it again.

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