'Scream 4' true to form
The fun with the original "Scream" was that audiences could expect the unexpected.
Gleefully self-referential and inarguably fun, it was as much a love letter to horror cinema as it was a horror film.
A sequel was inevitable - it fit the premise to a tee, again knowingly referencing all the necessary components of a sequel, practically calling itself out. Now audiences would expect to expect the unexpected.
It worked, but left director Wes Craven ("A Nightmare on Elm Street") to play up the same angle in subsequent sequels.
The latest, "Scream 4," is more of the same, but it's fun more of the same, and with a generational twist. Eleven years since the last installment, the main cast is back for more, but supported by a fresh crew of teenage fodder and a slew of new horror conventions.
But a lot's happened in 11 years. Hollywood's churned out a decade's worth of horror movie remakes, reboots and re-imaginings - ideal for the series' self-referential trappings. And whereas having a cell phone was all but damning in the first film, practically every teenager in the fictional town of Woodsboro now has an iPhone.
"Scream" survivor Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell, "Wild Things") has moved on, putting her bloody past behind her by penning an inspirational autobiography. The first stop on her book tour is Woodsboro, and, wouldn't you know it, as soon as she arrives, some teenagers are stabbed to death by another incarnation of the Ghostface Killer (voiced again by prolific voice actor Roger Jackson).
With Sidney as the ultimate target, the killer set sights on her little cousin, Jill, whose friends make for the perfect secondary cast, i.e. knife fodder. One character even acknowledges this, complaining how modern horror doesn't bother with character development, just establishing two-dimensional characters for the inevitable bloodbath.
Sure enough, she's right, and the slayings continue, hastening the efforts of Sheriff Dewey Riley (David Arquette, "Eight Legged Freaks") and his enterprising wife, former investigative reporter Gail Weathers (Courtney Cox, TV's "Friends").
Consulting a couple of high school film geeks (Erik Knudsen, "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," and Rory Culkin, "Signs"), Gail learns the new rules of the genre, uncovering a secret that could lead to the killer's identity - or identities.
As far as horror goes, it's nothing new, but that's somewhat the point. Tongue firmly in cheek, Craven plays up the tired conventions of mainstream, modern horror, a knowing wink that's probably missed by the younger "Saw" crowd.
But for "Scream" fans, it's a return to form for Craven and the chance to revisit familiar characters in a series that's all about familiarity - and stabbing people.
"Scream 4," rated R for strong bloody violence, language and some teen drinking, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone. For show times, see page 23 or visit http://www.mountaintimes.com/movies.