Scream 4 (plus a shameless plug for Scene Cards)

**Shameless Promotion of Scene**

If you don’t have a Scene card already, get one. It’s free, you get free things, and you always get 10% off concessions – making that $6.60 popcorn a $5.94 one.

I signed up for a Scene card for two reasons – so I could get free movies and so I could get a library card. I had just moved to my brother’s place and I needed proof that I lived somewhere in the city (who knew that library card fraud was so widespread?) so I signed up for the Scene card, entered the address I was currently at, got my Scene card plus the letter the proved where I lived, and then got my free library card. I believe Charlie Sheen has a word for that…

Anyway, I experienced the power of the Scene card for the first time when I went to see Scream 4. I had 650 points on my card (you get 100 for every movie you see and once you hit 1,000 you get a free movie – it’s the equivalent of a coffee shop’s buy ten get one free cards) and was pleasantly surprised to realize that on Wednesdays the redemption amount is halved to 500 points for a free movie – so my $12.75 stayed in my pocket…only to be used to pay for my girlfriend’s ticket. But still – the savings!

For those of you who don’t have a scene card, consider getting one. And then take your date out to movies on Wednesday to double the savings.

**End Shameless Promotion**

EDIT: I found out that the Wednesday 500 Scene points offer is only available in Quebec for a limited time. Little bit of a downer, but the card’s still a decent deal.

Scream 4 has a fantastic tongue-in-cheek beginning (one that would probably become irritating on repeat viewings) before falling into the familiar formula of self-aware characters being sliced-and-diced one by one by a masked “Ghostface” killer. After three editions of this (and a fifth reportedly on the way) the “meta”-horror genre that Scream originated feels stale.

Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) the survivor of the previous three films, is back – this time as a self-help guru who is trying to transcend her status of a “victim” – and ends up in Woodsboro (where else?) on the final leg of a book-signing tour. Of course, the phone starts ringing, the dead bodies start piling up, and Sidney’s cousin (Emma Roberts) and friends (Hayden Panettiere, Marielle Jaffe, Erik Knudsen, Rory Culkin, Nico Tortorella) are the next victims on Ghostface’s list.

I can’t remember a horror movie that has had kills this uninspired. There was no stand-out suspense sequence punctuated by a blood-curdling death. In the first Scream, there’s the original killing of Drew Barrymore’s character where she almost makes it the front door steps – right where her parents are arriving home from a late night. In that same film, there’s the garage door death of another character (parodied in Scary Movie) and in Scream 2 there’s the killing in a movie theatre (a killing at the movie-within-the-movie – can you get more meta?). There’s nothing like those scenes that stand out in Scream 4. This new sequel (reboot?) has the highest body count and the most gruesome murders, but it falls into the trap of the Saw films (which one Scream character accurately criticizes as having “mutilated arms and legs instead of characters). It feels like a paint-by-numbers edition of the series rather than a fully fleshed out addition.

The one legacy I appreciate about the Scream series is how its flipped the immortality of the killer onto the victim. Michael Myers, Jason, and Freddy Krueger can’t be killed. Add Sidney Prescott to that list. I don’t know the exact tally from the series, but I’m guessing that the multiple times she’s been stabbed, sliced, or pushed off roofs would be enough to kill a lesser character. It’s a nice twist on the genre though; the killers die with every movie, but the victim (or victims if you include Dewey and Gale Weathers) are immortal.

I think the logical conclusion of this series is that Sidney Prescott has to die. One of the characters in the film accuses her of being an “Angel of Death.” It’s an interesting take – as long as Sidney lives, there will always be another Ghostface looking to kill her. Maybe she’s right to believe that “victim” is the wrong word for her. Perhaps she’s the villain.

Grade: C-


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