"What's your favorite scary movie?" Back in 1996, chances were that your answer to that question was the same film in which the line was spoken: Wes Craven's meta-horror flick Scream. Now, more than 10 years after the third installment in the franchise, "Ghostface" has returned in a new sequel, Scream 4 (opening Friday), that brings post-modern scares (and laughs) to a whole new generation. Will the original formula of self-aware scares and black humor still work? (Watch the trailer for Scream 4.)
If you were a teenager during the first three, you'll enjoy this: The "somewhat entertaining, occasionally scary" Scream 4 is a worthy addition to the canon, says Andrew O'Hehir at Salon, especially for viewers who watched the original trilogy "through a delighted scrim of adolescent self-awareness." But older viewers, like me, might find this "cheerfully revived zombie corpse" only a "minor diversion."
"More meta than ever! And almost as much fun"
Ghostface should have been left in the grave: There really was no need for Craven to impose the Scream franchise on a new generation, says Nick Pinkerton at The Village Voice. His new "late-'90s flashback" is "unengaged and overlong," and shows this "self-reflexive horror stuff" has aged about as well as the "Nu-metal songbook."
"David Arquette and Courteney Cox, together again, in Scream 4"
What happened to the scares? The original Scream gave the horror genre a "much needed revitalization," says Monica Bartyzel at Moviefone, matching "suffocating tension" with postmodern comedy. Scream 4 offers us the meta-commentary, and the laughs, but skimps on the fear. "It's like a mostly smarter version of Scary Movie."
"Is Scream 4 actually scary?"