In Scream 4, Neve Campbell Learns You Can’t Go Home Again

Before the first Scream came along, characters in slasher films would often act as if they had never seen a slasher film–or any other horror film for that matter. You know the kinds of behavior I’m referring to: the knock in the middle of the night that causes someone to leave the safety of her house to ask the fatal question, “Is anybody out there?”; a character going to the basement —alone-to retrieve something despite the fact that a homicidal maniac has just been spotted in the neighborhood; a character trying to flee someone by climbing up the steps of her home and then locking the door because gosh, that will keep the killer out. (I almost forgot the villain who talks and talks while he should be administering a death blow).  So it was refreshing when Wes Craven’s Scream trilogy poked pointed fun at the horror/slasher movie genre, populating the films with characters (heroes, villains, and victims) who know the genre and try to survive or avert disaster –according to the rules of the game. In Craven’s reboot Scream 4, ten years have passed since Scream 3–ten years of American/foreign/horror/slasher/splatter films, not to mention the inordinate number of homages/spoofs filled with pop culture references and in-jokes. As a result, while there are some traces of wit and a few shocks, the film, scripted (mainly) by Kevin Williamson, is content to travel a by-now familiar road with Sydney (Neve Campbell) trying to both live down her past–and peddle a few books about her past– on a publicity tour that brings her home–and face to face with a new Ghostface killer.  Courtney Cox and David Arquette are also on hand, as well as a lot of new blood (in some cases, literally) like Hayden Panetiere, Marley Shelton, Allison Brie and Emma Roberts as Sydney’s cousin.  Kristin Bell and Anna Paquin have a  clever, amusing cameo that is probably the film’s high point.  I won’t reveal the killer–but I will say the movie goes on a lot longer (with a lot more talk) than it needs to once the identity is revealed–and that’s something that will cause this Scream to be made fun of by future cinematic pop culture mavens.