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It's really hard to believe that Scream 4 came out seven years ago. And to think, for some reason I've had lukewarm feelings toward it all this time. It's been a few years since I've watched it, maybe more. But rewatching it now, I was kind of blown away by it.
Scream 4 wisely course corrects from the painfully over the top crap fest of Scream 3 and gets back to basics. There's a new generation with new rules and 21st century Hollywood's propensity for remakes and reboots is ripe for satirizing. The original surviving trip of Sydney, Gail, and Dewey are back and so is the town of Woodsboro.
But what makes Scream 4 work so well is that as much as Sydney thinks (and expects) the killings to be about her, they're not. Like I said, there's a new generation and that's where Sydney's cousin Jill and her friends come into play. This is the teenagers' story which also happens to be the movie's biggest improvement over Scream 3 (3's ridiculous voice changer notwithstanding).
Jill and her friends aren't just killer fodder like the actors and actresses in Scream 3. They're integral to the story because they have actual backstories and chemistry. Jill's ex Trevor is trying to win her back (admittedly by doing his best Billy Loomis impression, which isn't great). Kirby is the cool manic pixie dream girl of horror lover geek Charlie. Robbie is the movie buff livestreaming his high school escapades with a ridiculous headset webcam. Yes, they can be over the top and ridiculous, and yes they are by design written as archetypes mirroring the original movie's cast. But the difference between ridiculous here and ridiculous in Scream 3 is that the cast sells so much better. And I bought every second of it.
Aside from the cast and chemistry, Scream 4 offers up the franchise's most gruesome kills yet. Characters are gutted in rooms that become drenched in blood with the character's intestines splayed out, and a knife is shoved into a character's forehead, to name a couple. It's just delightful.
The most surprising thing about Scream 4 is the meta commentary it makes on pop cultural, the appeal of "celebrity", and this generation's craving for attention and urge to document their lives. It incorporates these things in a way that uniquely retains the franchise's style while simultaneously updating it to the present.
There is also a really terrific and cheesy one-liner spoken at the end that I will never not get a kick out of.