Scream 4, by Albert W. Vogt III

Finally.  Thank God.  These are words that I am telling myself now that I have gotten to Scream 4 (2011).  I am fairly certain they are also things said inside the skulls of the actors and actresses involved with Scream 3 (2000).  Finally, we can walk away from these films and move on with our lives with other projects.  Fortunately for me, I can do exactly that after I scrawl the last word of this review . . . until they make a stinkin’ Scream 6!  Of course, there are already rumors of this planned travesty, talking about bringing back one of the original Ghostface killers (one last time, sorry Wu Tang Clan) with the seemingly deceased Stu Macher (Matthew Lillard) from the first Scream (1996).  If that day comes, hopefully the imprint of my hand on my forehead after slapping it in incredulity does not become permanent.  As for those left standing at the end Scream 3, they had to live with the horror that there were going to be two more installments. I bet they were wishing that their careers had done better between 2000 and 2011.

Here we go again with Scream 4, with teenaged girls answering strange phone calls in the town of Woodsboro that lead to their murders.  The movie tosses in a few extra walls of reality (for lack of a better term) with the movies within movies within movies with the Stab films being watched by the victims, Jenny Randall (Aimee Teegarden) and Marnie Cooper (Britt Robertson).  This happens on a significant day for the town because it is the fifteenth anniversary of the original Ghostface killing spree.  This event brings back to town our survivors from previous attacks, namely Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell).  While at her book signing, the new sheriff Dewey Riley (David Arquette), drops in because the phone calls to Jenny and Marnie originated on the premises.  They then find evidence that makes Sidney a suspect, though Dewey is able to dispel the suspicions.  Sidney is staying with her aunt Kate Roberts (Mary McDonnell) while she is in town.  Hence, Sidney is on hand to see her cousin Jill’s (Emma Roberts) boyfriend Trevor Sheldon (Nico Tortorella) sneaking into the house, evoking memories for Sidney of the same thing happening to her fifteen years ago, which turned out to be one of the killers.  Later on, Jill gets a phone call from Ghostface, making her the next target.  Wondering what is going on with franchise resident reporter Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox)?  She has been experiencing writer’s block lately, and uses the new killings to reinvigorate her craft.  With the police keeping an eye on Jill, Sidney joins Gale in her investigations.  Her main lead is the high school film club, who take on the role in this iteration of stating the rules for surviving this new set of attacks.  We cannot have one of these movies without this character(s), right?  The term they land on first this one is “remake,” which is silly when you consider that this one hits all the same beats as the original.  At any rate, the film club, despite having knowledge of how all these attacks have worked with the Stab films, decide to host a Stab marathon at Jill’s best friend Kirby Reed’s (Hayden Panettiere) home.  This is not something I like to say, but it is almost as if these teenagers are asking for it.  Despite all the death going on centering on the Ghostface murders, they gather to watch movies inspired by the same crimes.  And the one who has gotten away so far, Jill, decides to attend.  Well, surprise, surprise, the masked one shows up and begins dispatching the teens, especially when they wander off on their own.  The fact that Jill is there brings Sidney, who has taken an interest in her cousin’s survival.  Oh, look, a party in a Scream movie, I wonder what happens next?  The killers reveal themselves, of course.  This time, our pair turns out to be one of the leaders of the film club, Charlie Walker (Rory Culkin), and, strangely, Jill.  Charlie is doing it because he has become fascinated with the lore behind the Stab films.  As for Jill, she sees this as an opportunity to step out for under the shadow of her more famous cousin, provided she can pull off the planned frame job that all those who wore the Ghostface mask before her planned.  In doing so, she betrays Charlie and thrusts a knife into Sidney’s stomach.  She then goes about arranging the scene to make it look like she was the one attacked, and then waits for the authorities to come to her aid.  Unfortunately for her, Sidney survives the ordeal, and is in the same hospital as her.  When she can get away, Jill makes her way to Sidney’s room to finish off her cousin.  Being the wily veteran of these experiences that she is, Sidney is able to fend off Jill with some timely help from Dewey and Gale.  Hence, while news media outside tells of Jill being the hero, she dies a villain in the end.

Alright, how to bring in my Catholic perspective on Scream 4, a film that basically repeats everything you have seen in three previous films. . . .  I mean, what else can I say about repetition?  I suppose I will go with Jill’s motivation for donning the plastic mask of Ghostface.  A moment ago, I described it in rather nice, understandable terms.  People do not like to be overshadowed by others, friends or family, intentionally or not.  What Jill really says is that she wants to be famous.  When Sidney asks why Jill would murder her friends, Jill retorts with how instead she desires fans.  If I had to point out a sin here, other than the obvious, it would be pride.  Pride works both ways, though.  It manifests itself not only in acts of vainglory, but in being jealous of the achievements of others.  It seems a little silly to think about in analysis, but Jill wants the attention that Sidney once received.  Of course, Sidney would tell her that it was attention she never sought. Yet, Jill will clearly commit the most heinous acts in order to achieve it.  As such, you can see the logic behind the Church listing pride as one of the Seven Deadly Sins.  To be fair, God sees sin as all of a piece: a separation from the love He freely wishes to bestow upon us at all times.  At the same time, it acknowledges that some sins are particularly problematic for what they can lead people to do.  Jill is but one example of its ill-effects.

There.  Thank God.  I made it to the end of the Scream franchise, and hopefully for good.  To reiterate what I said about Scream (1996), if you must see any of these films, watch the first.  It will tell you everything you need to know about the rest.

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