Embracing the campiness "Scream 4" is a surprisingly successful horror/comedy sequel

The thing that made Wes Craven’s 1996 horror film “Scream” famous and successful is that it took all the clichés from the popular slasher films and mushed them together to create something fresh and original.  He followed it with two decent sequels.  

Now here we are with the fourth installment of the “Scream” series. Not bad, it’s only number four. If it were “Friday the Thirteenth” we’d be up to number 2,000 or something. To my surprise “Scream 4” is one of the best horror movie sequels out there, and a major improvement on the rather disappointing ”Scream 3.”

The killer, known as Ghost Face, likes scary movies and uses the common clichés or “rules” from those films.  For example, if someone says, “I’ll be right back” you know they won’t be; also, if a character has sex, you know he or she will be a victim, because only virgins survive.

One of the biggest factors in all of the  “Scream” movies is that, with new horror movies coming out all the time, the rules of the game are always evolving. The central theme of the movie has to do with the rebooting of a horror movie franchise. Something that’s very common in the horror movie genre these days. “Scream 4” isn’t a remake but it feels like one. 

After an elaborate opening sequence, the heroine of the first three Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell) returns to her hometown of Woodsboro on the fifteenth anniversary of the very first killings, while on a tour promoting her new self-help book. She runs into old friends, Sheriff Dewey Riley (David Arquette) and his now wife and ex-TV reporter Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox). It’s not long before the Ghost Face killings start up again. 

In addition there is a whole bunch of new faces, such as Sydney’s teen cousin Jill (Emma Roberts), her friend played by Hayden Panettiere, a new female deputy, two horror movie film buffs, an ex-boyfriend, and so on. In other words, plenty of victims and suspects, and a couple of guys fill us in on the new rules.

The whole movie is for the most part ridiculous and not scary. Just about everything down to the music is cheesy, its thrills get a little repetitive and the body count may be a wee bit high but that’s the idea--that’s the fun.
     With all the rip-offs (“I know What you did Last Summer”) and spoofs (“Scary Movie”) that came after the first three “Screams”, the franchise has become a joke. “Scream 4” embraces that silliness and in the long run it makes the movie very entertaining.

The endings of the “Scream” films are the most important. They either make the campiness, repetitiveness, and body count satisfying or not. You get to find out who the killer is and their elaborate motive.
    The ending of “Scream 4” is a little extravagant in places but clever and creative nonetheless. It does a wonderful job of ending the movie while at the same time leaving it open. Apparently there are plans to make a “Scream 5” and even a sixth film in the series.

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