Saturday, April 16, 2011

Scream 4: Stab, Stab, Meta, Meta

There's a scene in Scream 4 where a character returns home with groceries, puts them down and carries on a conversation with another character. This may in fact be the most interesting scene of the movie. Or it was for me anyway. I could not take my eyes off the innocuous box of cereal in one of the groceries bags that had already been opened and re-closed with the tabs provided. What purpose does this serve? Is Ghost Face hiding in there? Is this a subtle nod to the economic downturn Woodsboro has faced and the residents now have to re-use their cereal boxes??

Yes, it's been a long time since Ghost Face made an appearance on the Woodsboro scene but in that time a whole generation of youngsters have grown up celebrating the lore that spawned the fictional film series, Stab. Our final girl, Sidney, returns to her hometown promoting her self-help book and encounters the other survivors of the first three films Gale and Dewey now not-so-happily married. If this sounds like a very special Lifetime movie, you're not too far off.

The murders come fast and dirty and act as a backdrop for our illustrious trio to work through their issues that they've had since the first movie. Sidney tries to stand her ground that she's not the victim and Gale and Dewey try to prove that opposites attract. The younger generation spend a lot of time establishing the "new rules". While I'm not saying these new rules are wrong, the scenes are confusingly written. Essentially, the film should work within the "X + Y = the new status quo" and let the murders follow. What happens in Scream 4 is one group of characters start a conversation, something happens and the conversation is dropped. Gale/Dewey/Sidney demands information and the conversation kind of continues, then gets dropped. Then the conversation picks up and finishes a half hour later. Which you can imagine makes for a long-ass movie.

The film does work within it's own Scream conceit. If you're a horror fan, specifically a slasher fan, the film is a fun exercise in subverting the genre. Granted they subvert it to a point that it's not really a slasher film but it is interesting. Every character has a motivation to be the murderer so at the end of the film you're left with 98% red herrings. Also, there are some interesting interpretations of how cell phones do and don't work.

More over, once you reach the end of the film it doesn't really matter who the killer is. It's a superfluous conceit. What matters is watching the returning characters and trying to figure out with them what the new rules are and how they work. For me, it's a fun movie. I was definitely not dissapointed I saw it. I can see how Scream 4 would irritate some as it essentially goes around in illogical  circles. But if you're interested in a rebooted-meta-slasher film it's actually kind of cool. (Also, a fun drinking game is to do a shot every time someone says "meta".)

But what of the cereal box friends???  Was the character simply hungry on the drive home? Is Ghost Face messing with Woodsboro's cereal supplies? I guess that's what they had everyone sign contracts for Scream 5 and 6 for.


  1. That's hilarious. I picked up on the pre-opened cereal box too. I enjoyed this one. In fact I'd rank it as my 2nd favorite of the series. But after the dismal numbers from the opening weekend, I doubt Scream 5 & 6 will be happening.

  2. Agreed. I was actually excited to see what they could do with it after this one. I just wish they'd been more subtle about all the meta stuff. Oh well, maybe we've got some shitty straight-to-DVD in our future sequels...