Feature

'Scream 4': Is the franchise still relevant?

It has been more than a decade since "Ghostface" last terrorized audiences in a franchise known for chills with chuckles. Does the "Scream" formula still work?

"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?"

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