Friday, October 21, 2011

SCREAM 4 (Blu-ray & DVD)

Eleven years after the concluding chapter of the mega-popular SCREAM trilogy, director Wes Craven and original screenwriter Kevin Williamson, revisit the small town of Woodsboro, to introduce a new generation to the knife-wielding "Ghostface" and their particular brand of self-referential, self-aware meta-horror. That's right, kids, it's SCREAM 4 (2011), an accomplished but unnecessary sequel that offers little that's new, except for some fresh young teen grist for the bloody mill.

Ten years after the events of SCREAM 3, series survivor Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell, WILD THINGS) returns to her hometown for the first time since the original spate of murders. She's written a self-help book, and her publicist (Alison Brie, COMMUNITY) has picked Woodsboro as the final stop on her book tour. There, she is reunited with now-Sheriff Dewey (David Arquette), and his wife, former TV journalist, Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox, COUGAR TOWN). Of course, it's merely a matter of time before someone wearing the familiar mask is on the loose, making threatening phone calls and running around with cutlery, terrorizing Sidney and the new generation of horror movie-obsessed Woodsboro teens, racking up an impressive body count....

As with the earlier entries, SCREAM 4 attempts to both comment on/satirize the conventions and cliches of the current cinematic horror genre, while simultaneously indulging in them. Williamson's script (with uncredited additions from SCREAM 3 screenwriter Ehren Kruger) dutifully decries the recent trends of "torture porn" and unnecessary slasher remakes, while essentially being a remake itself of the original SCREAM. There are a few moments of genuine suspense, and if you're a fan of the original films, it's fun to have the band back together (including cinematographer Peter Deming and composer Marco Beltrami).  But, while SCREAM 4 is moderately entertaining, it's ultimately over-familiar and uninspired.

Technically, it's a slick piece of work, and the cast all deliver solid performances. The returning cast members appear to be having a good time, and the new kids - Emma Roberts, Lucy Hale, Hayden Panettiere (HEROES) - all acquit themselves adequately.

The Bluy-ray/DVD combo from Anchor Bay Entertainment of SCREAM 4 looks and sounds great, with a pristine 2.35:1 widescreen presentation (1080p on the BD) that's very pleasing to the eye. The Blu-ray disc sports a robust 5.1 DTSHD-MA audio track, while the DVD suffices with a very solid 5.1. Dolby Surround channel. Extras on both discs include an audio commentary track by Wes Craven and actresses Campbell, Roberts and Panettiere, a selection of deleted and extended scenes, an alternate opening and extended ending, a "Making Of" featurette, and a gag reel. The package also includes instructions on how to download a Digital Copy of the film.

I've read some pretty harsh reviews of this belated sequel, and while I don't feel that it really adds anything substantial to the franchise, I must admit that I enjoyed watching it and was never bored. All said, it's still slightly better than part 3, and about on a par with part 2. If you're a fan of the franchise, you'll probably want to at least check it out.

BUYScream 4 [Blu-ray]