Review: Scream 4

Ghostface sneaks up behind Gail (Cox) in  Scream 4 .
Ghostface sneaks up behind Gail (Cox) in Scream 4 .

(MA15+) ***

Director: Wes Craven.

Cast: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Rory Culkin, Erik Knudsen, Nico Tortorella, Marley Shelton.

THE original Scream film revitalised the dying horror genre back in 1996 by injecting a sense of self-awareness amid its scares and managing to not disappoint too much across two sequels.

Now, with horror film-makers largely mistaking "disgusting and repulsive" for "genuinely scary", it's the right time for Craven, screenwriter Kevin Williamson and the key cast to return and show the next generation how a good slasher-flick is done.

While Scream 4 is certainly not up to the cleverness of the original, it's a worthy addition to the series, skewering the torture porn of the Saw and Hostel movies, embracing the "new rules" of horror, and finding a fittingly 2011 motive for the return of Ghostface.

Sidney Prescott (Campbell) seems to be the trigger for the masked killers reappearance, as a new series of murders coincides with her returning to Woodsboro to promote her autobiography.

Soon Gale Weathers-Riley (Cox) and her husband Sheriff Dewey (Arquette) are trying to find the identity of Ghostface before every teen in town winds up on the end of a blade.

Scream 4 occasionally pushes its "meta-ness" too hard - even incorporating a film-within-a-film-within-a-film at one point - and still can't resist having its characters do silly horror movie things, like running upstairs and not calling the cops.

But there is a surprising amount of material to explore in Scream's usual mirroring way, including the rise of the remakes and reboots that the original Scream inadvertantly kickstarted with its success, and the "no rules is the new rules" approach to making an increasingly desensitised audience jump.

The touchstones of the first trilogy are all there - some neat gags, good old fashioned slasher-flick scares, the joy in trying to figure out who the killer is, and the everpresent question "do you like scary movies?".

It may not be as ground-breaking as the original, but Scream 4 bucks the horror trend by retaining a level of quality rarely seen this many sequels in to a series.