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‘Scream 4’ Does not Live Up to the Original

The film was filled with young Hollywood actors like Hayden Panetiere, Emma Roberts, Kristen Bell, Adam Brody and others.

The movie that changed the horror genre has come out with another installment: Scream 4. There has not been a Scream movie in 11 years. Most fans probably thought the series was over, but here we are with a new generation of teens for Ghostface to attack and three old characters who have beaten death many times.

The opening scene of Scream 4 is no match for the opener of the first Scream with Drew Barrymore. Not that any of the opening scenes in the Scream series has reached the magnitude of that first scene.  The first scene in Scream 4 did not have the same formula as the first scenes in the previous films. It depicted a movie within the movie– with the Stab series reaching its seventh one. There were a few movie deaths before reaching the real opening scene that just didn’t pack the punch of the other three movies.

A.J. Phillips, a University of Tampa sophomore, thought the opening of the latest film in the franchise was “humorous and poked fun at the old one a little. I love how Scream makes fun of itself with the Stab movies before fans have a chance to poke fun at the movie.”

After watching the movie, I thought maybe this generation would appreciate the opening more than old Scream fans, like myself. I thought the opening was silly and just didn’t match the originals. Once Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette came onto the screen, though, the movie picked up.

The fourth Scream takes us back to Woodsboro, the town from the original, with Dewey (Arquette) as the Sheriff and his wife Gale (Cox) trying to write a work of fiction. Sidney (Campbell) comes back to her hometown on a book tour for her self-help book.

The cell phone used to call the first two victims was traced to the trunk of Sidney’s rental car. This is a much different plot possibility from the very first Scream that came out in 1996. Back then, the police were able to trace phone calls from the caller’s account, but were not able to trace the cell phone. The students found out the next morning just like in the original one, though this time instead of finding out from the news reporters surrounding their school they found out from text messages.

There was a lot of technology differences from the original, even from the third one to the fourth one. There is even an app that does Ghostface that makes it possible for these teens to play pranks on each other.

Scream 4 did its best to stay true to the original one, while simultaneously modernizing it. The movie geeks in the new Scream were times two. These geeks had a webcast, where they stream live, very different from Randy who worked in a video store. The new Sidney, played by Emma Roberts (Jill), happens to be Sidney’s cousin.  The best friend is still blond (Hayden Panettiere)– and staying true to the original, sports an unusual name like Tatum. Panettiere’s character got the name Kirby. There was one more friend in the mix though, Olivia played by Marielle Jaffe. Olivia was the first good kill of the movie. This was reminiscent of the old Scream kills. The classic “What’s your scary movie games?”, followed by the big kill. This is where the movie truly gets going.

Gale, disappointed that she can’t help solve the murders with Dewey like the old days,  teams up with the two movie geeks. They agree to work with her only if she brings Sidney to their film club. This is where the teens talk about the new rules of horror films. The rules are no longer as simplistic as the three rules from the original Scream. Now the kills have to be more extreme, virgins can die and the killer has to be filming the murders. Basically, anyone can die now.

Scream 4 was very good at combining some elements of the original Scream but also appealing to the new generation. Jill’s ex-boyfriend Trevor (Nico Tortorella) had deja-vu-ness of boyfriend Billy, including Trevor sneaking in Jill’s room through the window.

There was one thing from Scream’s epic opening scene that Scream 4 brought to the screen. The scene where Steve was tied to a chair and Casey (Barrymore) had to answer questions to determine whether he lived or died.

Another element taken from the original movie: Gale put up numerous cameras at the Stabathon party in hopes of catching the killer.

The questions were much different from the original movie. This generation’s horror movies have gone downhill. Numerous classic horror films have been remade instead of new ones being created. Saw even had an appearance in the movie with characters making fun of Saw 4. Even the Stab movies within the movie have been said to have gone to crap since they were no longer allowed to use Sidney’s story because she threatened to sue. This generation’s horror films have not reached the standards of the classic horrors that Scream referenced– or even Scream itself.

The movie overall was pretty scary, but not quite as scary as the first two. Scream 4 had the comedy of Scream 3, but more screams from the audience than the third one produced.

The killer(s) in this one were more psychotic than Billy and Stu were. The big question: Will Gale, Dewey and Sidney survive? Erica Dawson, an assistant professor at UT, said she would not be happy if Sidney survived.

I agree with her. The whole point of a horror movie is for there to be death, especially in a slasher such as this. The classic horrors such as Halloween, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street all had only one survivor.

I went into the movie hoping there would be fewer survivors than the previous films. This may be the final movie. They should finish it, right? To find out whether I was satisfied or not, and whether Sidney lives or die, check out Scream 4.

Mandy Erfourth can be reached at

2 Comments on ‘Scream 4’ Does not Live Up to the Original

  1. I agree with Patrick. The “Scream” series is COMPLETELY different from, pretty much, all other horror/slasher films. It isn’t the killer that lives through the series. It’s our protagonist, Sydney.
    *(sidenote: the “trio” wasn’t originally planned. Dewey was supposed to die in the first film, but that changed after a test viewing)

    Either way, I am pretty sure Wes Craven had no intention for it to be like the original, in such ways as the best friend being blond…

    As for the beginning, I personally thought it was brilliant. It is mocking the multitude of horror/slasher movies that are being made and barely lasting in theaters. I find it ironic. Also, I believe it was in the second “film within a film” with Kristen Bell and Anna Paquin where there is even a comment that shows that these scenes had a meaning.

    I loved this film. I agree with you that it is definitely modernized, but it is supposed to be. The original Scream will forever be one of my favorites, but I think this one will be remembered as a clever way that Wes Craven made another statement in the horror industry.


  2. Great read. However, I disagree with your last point. The Scream series is different from other slashers – typical slashers have the killers as the central focus whereas the Scream franchise has the original trio as the central focus. I would be really pissed if, after 10 years, Sid, Gale and Dewey died at the end at the hands of the new killers.


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