Fifteen years ago, the first Scream film struck a chord with the public with its ability to knowingly comment on the very genre it occupied. When it’s done correctly, this balancing act makes a very successful movie—altogether the original Scream trilogy grossed over $500 million—but it’s very hard to do correctly. When you don’t do it correctly, you get something like Scream 4.
Scream 4 begins with a new version of the iconic phone call scene, in which a new young actress (Lucy Hale replacing Drew Barrymore*) is stalked by Ghostface over the phone. When she finally gets killed in the new film, though, the murder is laughably fake, at which point it is revealed that what we’re actually watching is the opening scene of one of the Stab sequels—the movie-franchise-within-a-movie-franchise of the Scream universe. The film then cuts to two NEW young girls watching that scene on the couch. When one of THEM dies we are revealed to be watching YET ANOTHER Stab sequel. At this point the plot of Scream 4 actually begins, but by then the reality of the film has been so undercut that there is no investment at all when the “real” characters die. Continue reading