Horror review: Scream 4

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By Steve Newton

Compared to director Wes Craven’s previous horror outing, last year’s unforgivably awful My Soul to Take, Scream 4 is one of the greatest horror movies ever made. Compared to anything halfway decent, it doesn’t come off as quite so special, but it’s still a fun, fast-paced homage to slasher flicks that keeps you interested throughout.

The Scream movies are interchangeable as far as plot goes. Residents of small-town Woodsboro fall prey to a knife-wielding maniac in a black hooded robe and ghost mask while perennial scripter Kevin Williamson’s witty dialogue deconstructs the “rules” of contemporary horror by which they live or die.

The latest entry revolves around the return to Woodsboro of Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), a brave survivor of Ghostface’s previous rampage who is in town promoting a book about her ordeal. Her visit sets off another killing spree, one that involves both extremely hot high-school babes and some older characters played by series regulars Courteney Cox and David Arquette.

What always gives the Scream films their edge is the no-frills approach of the killer, who—unlike Craven’s famed Freddy Krueger creation—isn’t some unstoppable entity. Ghostface is just your run-of-the-mill mortal with a big, sharp knife who chases people down and stabs them to death. And that inherent scariness is intensified by the movie’s myriad phone conversations.

“If you hang up on me, I’ll cut your throat until I feel the bone!” one caller rages, although Craven and Williamson’s obsession with the latest technology makes it unclear whether or not it’s the killer you are hearing. It could just be a prankster who downloaded the new Ghostface voice app.

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