DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Wes Craven
Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Hayden Panettiere , Kristen Bell , Anna Paquin , Roger Jackson
Writing Credits:
Kevin Williamson (and characters)

New decade. New rules.

In Scream 4, Sidney Prescott, now the author of a self-help book, returns home to Woodsboro on the last stop of her book tour. There she reconnects with Sheriff Dewey and Gale, who are now married, as well as her cousin Jill (played by Emma Roberts) and her Aunt Kate (Mary McDonnell). Unfortunately Sidney’s appearance also brings about the return of Ghost Face, putting Sidney, Gale, and Dewey, along with Jill, her friends, and the whole town of Woodsboro in danger.

Box Office:
$40 million.
Opening Weekend
$18.692 million on 3305 screens.
Domestic Gross
$38.176 million.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1/16X9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 111 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 10/4/2011

• Audio Commentary with Director Wes Craven and Actors Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, and Neve Campbell
• Deleted Scenes
• Gag Reel
• “The Making of Scream 4” Featurette
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Scream 4 (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 23, 2011)

Back in 2000, Scream 3 supposedly finished off the “trilogy” that started with 1996’s Scream. All three of the flicks performed pretty well at the box office, and all three offered at least reasonable entertainment; though the quality definitely declined as the series progressed, the Scream franchise always remained “pretty good” at least.

And that was that – until 2011, when out of the blue, director Wes Craven decided to start things up again. Why? I don’t know, but I’d guess it had something to do with the fact that Craven’s post-Scream movies hadn’t done much in terms of revenue.

Scream 4 didn’t change that. Indeed, I’d have to deem Scream 4 an outright flop given the franchise’s fame and earlier success. It mustered a meager $38 million in the US, barely more than the second two films made in their respective opening weekends.

So I wouldn’t count on a Scream 5 anytime soon. However, failure never seems to kill horror franchises, so a revived Scream series may materialize someday anyway.

On the anniversary of the slaughter that marred her life, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) returns to her hometown of Woodsboro. The author of a self-help book to help people move on after tragedy, Sidney appears to bring bloodshed with her, as a new “Ghostface Killer” pops up to kill the teens of Woodsboro. This leads to a focus on Sidney’s cousin Jill (Emma Roberts), the apparent target of the murder’s fury.

Probably the biggest challenge faced by all the Scream sequels stemmed from the basic notion of the franchise. The original film worked because it played with and mocked the conventions of the horror genre. It walked a fine line between ironic comedy and actual terror.

Given that tenuous relationship between serious horror and mockery, it became tougher to keep things fresh as the series went, and that remains true 15 years later. Scream 4 makes only minor attempts to update the franchise. Really, other than nods toward social media and smart phones, little feels different that when we last saw Sidney and company in 2000. The film makes virtually no concessions toward changes in horror that’ve occurred over the last 11 years; this one plays like a film that could’ve come out 10 years earlier.

I suspect fans of the series will like that, and I can’t say that I mind it. However, it does place Scream 4 in an awkward place. The original franchise worked partially because it was so fresh and new. It doesn’t seem smart to continue to series with an effort that feels somewhat rehashed.

This doesn’t mean you’ll get no pleasure from Scream 4, as the film does offer decent entertainment. However, you won’t see much that comes as a real surprise, and you’ll probably feel stuck in a late 90s time warp.

Part of the issue is that Scream 4 walks a difficult line between sequel and remake/reboot. This plays out in its awkward balance of characters. The film mixes our old pals Sidney, Gale (Courteney Cox) and Sheriff Dewey (David Arquette) with the new roles represented by Jill and her peers. This doesn’t work as a “passing of the torch”; instead, the old and new parts combine in an active manner that just doesn’t work.

That’s because the movie never places a great investment in either side. This isn’t another chapter of Sidney’s story, but it’s not really Jill’s life, either. Both combine uncomfortably; we don’t find satisfaction in the way the film deals with either side.

Because of this, the movie works best in its first act. It starts well, with a crazy “movie within a movie within a movie” opening, and the premise offers some intrigue. It’s definitely fun to see what’s happened to Sidney and the others after all these years, and the first act keeps us with it due to that basic momentum.

Unfortunately, it loses its way after that. The problems with the character imbalance become too prominent, and the movie can’t compensate with thrills. Actually, the horror scenes tend to feel stale. We don’t find much creativity or excitement behind them, so they don’t deliver the necessary charge.

Since Scream 4 doesn’t compensate with great wit or cleverness, it tends to limp along as it goes. I do think it keeps us guessing about the killer’s identity pretty well, but once we learn that person’s identity, the rest of the film sags – and there’s still a lot of flick left after the reveal.

As a sequel/reboot/remake/whatever, Scream 4 doesn’t flop. Even with the criticisms I bring, I still think it gives us moderate entertainment much of the time. It just doesn’t do more than that. I think that if a franchise wants to come back to life after 11 years, it needs to do so with a bang. We don’t get the necessary punch from this fairly flat reinvention.

The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Scream 4 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. As far as SD-DVD transfers go, this one looked average, though it had its ups and downs.

Sharpness was usually fairly good, though. Wider shots tended to be a bit soft, but those instances weren’t major, and the movie usually demonstrated pretty decent clarity and accuracy. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, but I saw some light edge enhanement. Source flaws weren’t a factor.

Colors were decent. Unlike many modern horror movies, Scream 4 didn’t opt for a strongly stylized palette; it tended toward natural tones that favored a bit of a golden tint. The colors seemed fine; while they didn’t have great clarity, they were acceptable.

Blacks tended to appear somewhat loose and inky, and shadows were often too dark. The shadow scenes weren’t horribly dense, but they could be a bit tough to discern. All in all, there was enough positive material on display for a “C+”, but it wasn’t an inspiring presentation.

I thought that the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Scream 4 seemed fine. Given that we didn’t find a lot of action here, the mix tended to keep things spooky and atmospheric. It threw out the occasional jolt but mostly stayed with environmental material. The louder scenes offered nice involvement, while the quieter ones placed us in the action in an effective manner.

Audio quality appeared good. Speech was natural and distinct, with no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Effects sounded clean and accurate, with good fidelity and no signs of distortion. Music was perfectly fine, as the score showed positive dimensionality. This track was good enough for a “B“ and matched the movie’s mood.

The DVD comes with a decent array of extras. We open with an audio commentary from director Wes Craven and actors Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, and Neve Campbell. Craven, Roberts and Panattiere sit together for a running, screen-specific chat; Campbell shows up for a “special guest appearance”. Via the phone, Campbell pops up fairly early in the film and remains until roughly its mid-point. Panattiere leaves not much later, so a substantial portion of the conversation features only Craven and Roberts.

The commentary covers some story and character topics, deleted/changed scenes, cast and performances, sets and locations, cinematography and various effects. Don’t expect a wealth of good information here, though, as the chat tends to feel fairly insubstantial. The actresses often talk about how much they like this or that, and we just don’t learn a whole lot. The piece moves along well enough to keep us with it, but it’s never better than mediocre.

20 Deleted Scenes run a total of 26 minutes, one second. The majority of these offer fairly quick expository bits; they flesh out some character and story elements in a minor way. None of them prove to be especially interesting.

An “Alternate Opening” changes the manner in which the Woodsboro girls die at the film’s start. It doesn’t affect the plot – they’re just as dead in the final cut – but it does deliver something a little different. As for the “Extended Ending”, it takes the theatrical version’s finale and adds some character moments as a coda. It’s not effective.

We can view the deleted scenes with or without commentary from Craven. He gives us some notes about the sequences and occasionally – but not always – tells us why he cut them. Craven wasn’t an especially engaging presence during the main commentary, and he’s still pretty low-key here. He throws out a few decent details but doesn’t add a lot.

A Gag Reel goes for nine minutes, 17 seconds. Much of the reel shows the standard goofs and giggles, though we get more practical joke-style scares as well; usually someone will jump from behind a door or the like. A few funny moments emerge – mostly via improv from Anthony Anderson – but don’t expect a lot of hilarity.

Finally, we get the 10-minute, 28-second The Making of Scream 4. It features notes from Craven, Campbell, Roberts, Panattiere, and actors Anthony Anderson, Adam Brody, Courteney Cox, Alison Brie, and David Arquette. The show offers quick thoughts about story and characters, cast and performances, Craven’s work and the continuation of the series. This is a basic promotional piece, so there’s not much of interest on display.

A few ads open the disc. We get clips for The Zombie Diaries 2: World of the Dead, Children of the Corn: Genesis, the Scream trilogy, and Scream 4: The Mobile Video Game. No trailer for Scream 4 appears.

For reasons probably due more to flagging careers than to creative inspiration, a successful horror franchise comes back to life with Scream 4. The film won’t inspire a new run of flicks, though; it didn’t do much at the box office, and the movie lacks the zing and power to inspire “cult classic” affection. The DVD delivers decent picture, good audio and a reasonably useful set of supplements. This is a lackluster (probable) end to the series.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.2 Stars Number of Votes: 10
1 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main