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IN SHORT: Rated [R], 115 minutes
The Dentists of America should give Cranky a special Award for all the extra business their members get every time I write that director Wes Craven is a terrific comic director. Yes, you read that right. Scream 4, in this case, is a terrific comedy . . . as in drop your jaw to the ground from laughing and, in the moments while you catch your breath, some lovely young thing (choose from the list above) will get the surprise of her life at the pointy end of a really big knife. Hee hee hee.
Unlike the standard slice 'n' dice flick, a genre which I for-the-most-part despise, director Wes Craven's work is not a special effects fest with ultra- close-up shots of sharp, pointy things piercing human flesh. Once again teaming with Scream writer/co-creator Kevin Williamson, within minutes of the start of Scream 4, Craven has grabbed you by the short hairs and doesn't let go until the final R.I.P.'s (i.e. credits) run an hour and forty five minutes later.
Boy, we love it when we can plagiarize our own stuff. All we had to do was change "Scream 3" to "Scream 4" and so much for paragraph that precedes this one.
If you've taken the ride from the beginning. I can't stress this enough . . . we do not compare to Source Material. You shouldn't have to read a book to appreciate a movie. You shouldn't have to see a movie to appreciate the sequel. As far as Scream 4 goes, you don't have to know a damned thing as Craven and Williamson continue to let their characters deconstruct the very genre that they helped create years ago. If you do want self-referential details, there are enough of them buried in the screenplay that you should all be very happy campers by the time of the first killing stroke.
As for Scream 4: The lovely town of Wellsboro writhes in a torrent of veritable joy as the fifteenth anniversary of the "based on true events" film franchise Stab ("directed by Robert Rodriguez") comes and goes, with a convention of fanboys and girls celebrating the first film in the series of seven that began with a whole mess of real life death years before. For this anniversary there has been a fan convention, with marathons and costumes and midnight showings that, for an elder generation, mimic different kind of classics -- say The Rocky Horror Picture Show crossed with the annual San Diego ComiCon.
Ghostface costumes hang from the streetlamps and local law enforcement-- that would be sheriff Dewey (David Arquette) is thrilled when all is said and done. Dewey's wife Gayle (Courtney Cox) is really missing the fact that she retired from her gig as a television reporter, since no on is paying any kind of attention to her this go round. Said attention goes to former pal (sic) and fellow survivor Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) who has written a best seller about getting past traumatic events such as, say, surviving a ghostface'd psychokiller.
As the town breathes a collective sigh of relief . . . guess what? There's lots of names at the top of this page to give you a hint as to the answer.
But, from where we sit, we've got to give major props to Kevin Williamson who is very well aware that you can scream with terror just as well as you can scream with laughter. Yes, there were a pair of stabbings that turned Cranky's stomach but we spent more time laughing at a very funny script that drops bodies right and left to keep you aware that you aren't supposed to be laughing at a horror movie.
That's why Scream works so darn well. The franchise has never been as obsesed with surgical dissecton as other slice 'n' dice films are -- and that kind of obsession is why we spent years sending obsessed fans to the press screenings to do review work for us.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Scream 4, he would have paid . . .
We greatly enjoyed Scream 4. Now put it to bed.
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