Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Scream 4 doesn't follow the rules

The lame 4/ A should have been a sign.
Note the absence of a "better than Conan" tag on this post. That's intentional. Though I can't be sure that Conan is, in fact, better than Scream 4, I'm fairly confident that it actually knows what genre it's in.

May I suggest that if nostalgia drives you to rent Scream 4, avoid at all costs a Scream marathon before watching. It will only remind you how solid the previous movies were (YES, even the third one), and how precipitously the franchise has fallen. Even if you don't think Screams 1-3 were as awesome as I do, you have to agree that they abide by their own precepts. Each film carefully articulates and exploits the genre rules it is following. Though the third film threatens to drown in its own allusive cleverness, it still respects and fulfills expectations of the third film in a trilogy.

If the fourth film had chosen to lampoon the "revival of beloved characters/storyline for the money" angle, I think it would have been really successful and fun. Everyone's older, and, with the exception of Courteney Cox, looking a little fuzzy around the edges. Instead, the characters tell you, early and often, that it's a gritty reboot. Um, I do not think reboot means what you think it means. You can't have the same actors from the original simply reprising their parts in a reboot. That's why Michael Keaton doesn't show up in Batman Begins, why Toby Maguire is not going to be in the new Spidey, and why Leonard Nimoy's appearance in J.J.'s Star Trek was highly conceptual and still one of the most problematic and controversial aspects of the film. It just gets annoying and insulting at a certain point to have the script clumsily spout off the "rules" for a remake and un-ironically and ham-fistedly break them at the same time, especially in a series that heretofore has been so attentive to film fans. Take my advice--invoke the Matrix Revolutions rule and pretend Scream 4 doesn't exist.

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