DVD: Scream 4

 Photo: Alliance Films

Starring Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettierre and Rory Culkin. Directed by Wes Craven. 111 minutes. 18A

What’s my favourite scary movie? Although the first two sequels may be more funny than frightening, my answer has always been Scream.

Sure, Halloween (my runner-up) is much more haunting, but Scream has got some real guts. A perfect mix of pure scares (don’t tell me you didn’t get freaked out watching that opening scene at your best friend’s Grade 7 birthday sleepover!) and laughs (The Fonz is the principal?!), the 1996 slasher is a true modern horror classic. Countless films have tried to be as smart and/or simply scary as it was (and still is), but they have always fallen short, either going far too satirical or serious. That is, until now.

I could get gutted for saying this, but Scream 4 gives the original a serious run for its blood money. Whereas the first film took a pointed stab at the genre and its obvious clichés (the virginal survivor girl, saying “I’ll be back…” when you clearly won’t, the single remarkably fast-walking killer), this throat-slash of a sequel (it gets you with one clean, well-crafted gash!) attacks the current horror climate, oh-so-overcrowded with rip-offs, with full force.

The long-awaited final (at least for now) installment in the series is made for people like myself—life-long friends and fans of Sidney Prescott—who would not-so-secretly kill to be chased by old Ghostface one more time.  It’s both a lovingly, loyal remake of the Wes Craven-Kevin Williamson meta-masterpiece and its own overly referential monster.  Because its so superbly self-aware, it makes sure to bring more than a few surprises, purposely showing up every other redundant, snore of a scene-for-scene horror rehash out there.

Taking place fifteen years after the Ghostface’s original phantom phone call-filled reign of terror over Woodsboro, this fast-moving flick follows Sidney’s niece, Jill (Emma Roberts), as she and her friends try to dodge the knife of a yet new masked murderer with the help of Sid’s one-time killer-killing cohorts, Officer Dewey (David Arquette) and his wife (!), star journalist and author of the Woodsboro Murders, Gale Weathers. Of course, the killer’s arrival is no coincidence, coinciding with Sidney’s (Neve Campbell) return to town for her book tour (apparently, she wrote a memoir about her fucked up life called, Out of the Darkness).

I don’t want to give you all the gory details, but I will tell you this: the opening kill, which features, like all the other films, a slew of familiar faces who get it in the worst way, is worth the rental—hell, the purchase—alone. It’s over-the-top elaborate, bringing us the highest body count and number of not-so-subtle winks of the series.

Also, the acting may seem rather one-note at the start, but it gets remarkably better as the movie steams along—especially in the bloody brilliant (in every sense of the term) end. The final twenty minutes pretty much rip your insides out and serve them to you on a well-polished silver platter.

Maybe I’m just a fresh blood-thirsty fangirl, but no matter which way I slice it, Scream 4 is an absolute scream. Andpossibly my new favourite scary movie. A

EXTRAS: Alternate opening, extended ending, deleted scenes, Making of Scream 4 featurette, gag reel (Also available in Blu-ray)

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