I never eat popcorn in the cinema. I'm more of a Ben and Jerry's girl (sundae if it's a Natalie film) or pick'n'mix (bought outside the cinema's extortionate stand). But on Saturday night when a group of us went to see Scre4m, we got popcorn. Toffee, of course. Why? Scream is the ultimate horror flick popcorn on a Saturday night franchise: you get to jump out of your seat (flailing popcorn, obviously) at exactly the right moments, giggle at the self-referential/meta/popculture tidbits, watch goggle eyed as the girl runs away from Ghostface (a wise man once said "you might as well lock all the doors, go upstairs, and TAKE A SHOWER.") and then once it's all finished, bounce out of the cinema with a big smile on your face, not having had as much fun in forever. Scre4m - yes, I'm spelling it right - is pure cinema heaven.
Watch out, mind your way - spoilers ahead for sure.
On the upteenth anniversary of the Woodsboro murders (the stalked'n'slashed from the original Scream) and it seems, the DVD release of Stab 7, old-hand survivor Sidney returns to her home town to promote her new self-help drivel novel. She is reunited with old friends (Deputy Dewey, now Sheriff, and his wife Gail, now retired from prime time news and trying to become an author of best sellers), family (Auntie Kate and cousin Jill) and, as luck would have it!, old foes as a new Ghostface killer is in town and starts slicing and dicing the town's youngsters, be it hot busty blondes, closet nerds or the annoying publicist. Then the phone calls start: the killer knows Sidney and all she's been through, and wants to put an end to her tormented life once and for all...
I had no expectations coming into this, other than please be better than the god awful mess of Scream 3. The reviews were beginning to trickle in (previews had been limited to prolong the suspense of who the new killer is) and they weren't all good, although strangely places like the Guardian gave it three stars which made me question what taste the critics had. Clearly it was never going to surpass the original, and the (IMO) superior sequel, but as long as there was a point to it, and it was clever and inventive, I would be happy. And about four minutes in, this was already my favourite film of the year so far. BECAUSE THESE TWO GET HORRIBLY MURDERED:
Talk about pop the champagne, send the parade out - this is the best time I've had in the cinema EVER! I've never been so defiantly pleased in all my days. If only everything that happened on the screen was real, and these two were no longer alive to return to their original shows... [/fantasy]
I thought the beginning was helluv fun, cleverly subverting what you think you've been watching into random scenes you can't quite believe make up a whole film in themselves! When we finally made it to Scre4m it felt like the sequence had run out of steam a little bit, although I did like the cheeky nod to Rose McGowan getting chopped up by the garage door, only for Ghostface to crunch the new victim's back a little before dragging her back, rolling her over, and then getting stabby-stabby happy.
The rest of the film then flew by with angsty bored moments from the tweens avec snappy dialogue which was oh-so Kevin Williamson; touching scenes hinting at a bigger emotional arc for the original characters, and then lots of tense, bloody but thoroughly entertaining death scenes, including by far my favourite - death by letterbox! YES.
There had been a lot of rumours flying around that one of the main three were going to 'gank' it in this outing - hot tip being Courtney Cox's character Gail, who I thought was written and played brilliantly: the frustration of not being able to help or report on the new murders, and also finding herself in a world where handheld cameras are pushed aside by flashy new webcams. I definitely thought she was a goner in the haystack scene, but of course, her injury served a greater purpose later on in the film. I thought the character development was brilliant actually - even though I'm not particularly fond of Sidney, Dewey or Gail, we know them so well having been through the exact same trauma with them many times and their behaviour is so intrinsic and consistent that you naturally find yourself becoming interested in their lives - was there a romantic undertone to Dewey and Sidney's conversations or am I being too much of a Screek?
Warmly welcomed the new characters as well, even though they couldn't stick around for long. Hayden Pannacotta (stealing this from a friend!) was actually enjoyable to watch as the slightly edgy but secret film buff Kirby - the scene where she rattles off every single horror remake was indeed genius as Wes Craven pointed out; Marley Shelton (who I got very confused with Heather Graham, who stars in the original 'Stab' film) was fun as the smitten deputy officer, as were the double act of cops Anthony Anderson and Adam Brody; Alison Brie was a delight as the bitchy, no morals/ethics/manners publicist ("IT'S TRUDY FROM MAD MEN!" I cooed.)
I called Rory Culkin as the killer from the first trailer (it's so blatantly obvious) but I always forget these films work as a two-some and the hubby to be called the second killer halfway through the film: Emma Roberts' character Jill. I was genuinely impressed by Emma Roberts in this. I've only ever seen her do silly girly films (like Wild Child!) so found the reveal - even though we'd guessed it - highly satisfying, and her performance thereafter was just fabulous. SHE WAS SO MENTAL, I LOVED IT! Now whenever I get slightly peeved I'm going to tell the person next to me: "would you like me to scratch my own face, pull out my hair, stab myself with a knife, run into a painting and then throw myself backwards into a glass coffee table?" She was so methodical, and actually a complete maniac with the cutthroat ability to shoot/stab someone mid sentence. Her motive was also believable, and tied in very well with the modernista language, props and context Scre4m played into. It was only the ending at the hospital which brought things down a notch or two for me: she had been so careful and cunning all the way through, but when she realises Sidney made it out alive she goes batshit crazy and starts throwing her about the ward room. How is no one going to notice that?! Although eventual death by defibrillator - awesome cakes.
Not gonna tell you to go out and see it after reading this review coz I've just ruined the whole thing for you - ha! But just want to reiterate what a return to form this film is, and even though there were no expectations, what a pleasant surprise it was. I'll be raving about Scre4m and its ability to reign supreme of the teen horror genre for some time. And yes - Courtney Cox is turning into Janice Dickinson. It's not just you.