I didn’t want to have to come up with two separate introductions for Scream 3 and Scream 4 because I watched them both close together and really all the Scream movies have the same premise. Where they long to be different is in their exposition of the horror genre, with each addition we learn film theory regarding the films location in the series. With Scream 3 we get to hear quips on trilogies, while Scream 4, which was released 10 years after Scream 3 relates to the re-boot of a franchise. They’re intriguing little films, and it’s almost like watching a set of serials as opposed to movies in that we have the same core cast of characters surviving a string of horrendous murders in which they’re the primary target. While I may be the minority in thinking that the second film was better than the first, it’s almost universally recognized that 4 is better than 3.
Scream 3 has Sidney Prescott in a protective environment where she’s haunted by the memories of the past few years. On the set of the latest Stab movie, a fake film based on the events of the previous Scream movies, characters start getting killed off in the order that was intended on the script. Sidney comes out of hiding to aid in the investigation, and we’re treated to duplicates of each character running around getting killed (thanks to the actors portraying the Scream characters.) As fun as it sounds, Scream 3 suffers from an uninspired and tired script, giving up on most of the film commentary that made the first two so enjoyable and succumbing to the tropes and tirades of a traditional slasher film. It’s not without its moments, but essentially we’re dealing with a fairly generic slasher/mystery movie.
However, Scream 4 attempts to get back into the swing of the Scream roots by revamping the rules for a newer generation. At this point in film history, Scream isn’t the only spoof of the horror genre, and it certainly isn’t the only one to lampoon the slasher genre. Taking into account this quasi-enlightened period in film history, we’re treated to the most bloody and confusing opening in the franchise. The opening sets up the tone for the rest of the movie. Yes, we’ve seen most of this before, but returning to the series so much later adds a breath of fresh air. We’ve had three films to get to know our primary players, and it’s fun to see where they’re all at in life. Returning to the town where it all started, Sidney soon realizes that another ghost face killer is out to get her. She, however, has been through this enough times to know how to stand her own. Sidney, along with Gale and Dewey (who are now married) attempt to apprehend and protect their friends and family, especially Sidney’s cousin and their group of friends who seem to be targeted this time around as well. Feeling perhaps a alittle too much like a holiday special than a full blown feature film, it still manages to hit the right notes to let us know that maybe this whole “reboot” thing is a good idea.
And I certainly hope the studios think so too. Scream, despite it’s weak moments, is one of the most solid horror franchises to date, each with a surprising level of depth and creative writing, they’ve tended to be both scary, funny and, to some extent, thought provoking. They’re created in such a way that it’s easy to see the thin mask of source material overlaying the sharp critique. Given that Scream 4 was absolutely meant to be a re-boot, I can only hope that Scream 5 gets it’s chance on the big screen; or even the little screen, at this point it’s like Scooby Doo with a decent production value.
*Edit* according to wikipedia that whole TV show thing is actually happening next year, so, yay.