film review: Scre4m (2011)


Scream 4 posterHave you ever watched a film and thought; I’ve seen this all before?

Have you ever watched a film which tells you; You’ve seen this all before?

Have you ever watched a film which tells you; You’ve seen this all before, in the films that came before this one in the series?

Does that sound like the kind of film you want to see?


Ok… well then Scre4m is the film for you.

Personally, I could have done with seeing a film that at least tried to do something slightly more original.

Of course, that’s not the point of the Scream films. The Scream films were all post-modern, all about being meta. The problem is, they’re on number four and you can’t go down the meta route indefinitely. You just can’t do the meta of meta of meta ad infinitum. You can try… but you’re gonna need a sharper writer than the one Scream uses

I’m just going to out and say it. Scre4m did not work for me. It tries so damn hard to be clever. It tries really really hard to straddle the comedy and horror genres… and it just doesn’t pull it off. It just ends up a muddling kind of mess.

The comedy is actually pretty decent. There’s some funny lines and the trying to uber-smart and self-referential isn’t as annoying as it could have been. It made me laugh. It’s also not that kind of funny that you sometimes get in horror films. Where you’re laughing but then you wonder to yourself, was that meant to be funny or am I just a sick person? I got that a lot with the Japanese film Cold Fish the other day. Wow, that was a strange film. But we’re not talking about Cold Fish. Scre4m. Right.

The big problem with Scre4m (so it appears in the titles btw) is the horror part of the film. It’s just not scary. At all. I couldn’t even tell if it was trying to be scary. Not that those parts looked like they were trying to be funny, but if you try to create a horror film out of horror clichés then all you’re gonna get is a clichéd horror film. There’s literally nothing new in this film. And I know that’s the way it’s supposed to be but I have to ask the director and writer on this…

… What were you thinking? I mean… I just don’t understand what bit of this film is supposed to be scary. You can see everything a mile off, because you’ve seen it all before, so how is that scary? And even when they try to get a bit of tension going, it’s ruined the second they dip back into the self-referential stuff… which they do all the time because this isn’t a true horror film… it’s, you know, a horror film about people in horror films who have lived through incidents that sound just like the plot of horror films… Gah.

Oh, have I mentioned that it’s really long as well? It’s about 1hr 51m. Snip, snip I say. Even the opening scene went on too long. And what was laughable about it was that they criticised the character development in the Saw films. As though these films have character development. Sure, I know, that’s part of the joke (I hope) – that bit was more a sly stab* at the intricacy of the traps in the Saw films – We can do horror with just a knife! Fine, but guess what? Recycling the same damn story has gotten old. At least Saw films kept adding to the Jigsaw mythology as they went along. I’ll admit, they didn’t do it very well in the last 3 or 4 but at least they made some effort to try and tie in a new story.

I’d love to spoil the ending of this film but obviously I can’t. Needless to say, I was unimpressed. And the lazy attempt to bring it up to date by talking about Facebook, live vlogging, living life online. Whatever. It was painful. They never actually tied it in properly so it was just flapping around as a loose end to be grabbed at from time to time. A wasted opportunity.

It was all a bit of a pity. Though. It was actually better than I thought it would be. Just because of the funny bits…

Oh, I’ll give Scre4m a point for this. I liked how the characters were pretty aware of what to do if there’s a murderer on the loose. Checking in the back seat of the car, that kind of thing. They didn’t all go for the weapons as fast as I would have… but then I’ve been known to poke around my closets with a knife after some episodes of Criminal Minds… perhaps I’m a little more paranoid than most.

To sum up, it’s kinda half good.


* = see what I did there?


  1. comment-avatar
    TrevApril 17, 2011 - 8:59 pm

    Ok my biggest problem is that, to me, it focuses more on the comedy versus the horror and, therefore, works far better as a dark comedy/horror-comedy versus a horror film with comedy in it.
    I don’t consider the first Scream an out and out horror myself but this film does have tone issues, it just seemed to fall into comedy more than suspense, and there weren’t a lot of scares, and the kills aren’t as inventive as the first.
    + The much more interesting ending would definitely been had the killer gotten away with it completely.
    I heard that was the original plan. It would have set up a great Scream 5 where the audience knows the killer, but none of the other character have a clue. Would have been really interesting.

  2. comment-avatar
    TrevApril 17, 2011 - 9:00 pm

    + I agree with you ranking. I didn’t hate it out and out. I was just let down.

  3. comment-avatar
    Nicola-tApril 17, 2011 - 11:17 pm

    Assume that there be spoilers in the comments folks…

    @Trev – I had a couple of problems with it… first of all, the killers. Who did they think they were fooling with the guy taped to the chair? If you were a psychotic killer would you tape your victim to a chair then just wander off for no apparent reason? Really?

    Then, Jill as the killer? I’m not going to say that I saw it coming, because I never watch a movie trying to work out the ending – it’s the film’s job to bring me there as far as I’m concerned. But it’s hardly ground breaking, it’s basically the victim becomes the torturer, except of course she was never a victim so they had to tie in another reason… so they used this slapdashed instant fame thing. What was it supposed to get her? We’re watching a film where everyone apparently knows “the rules”. Well if you know the rules then you know that you only get 15 minutes of fame. Ok, she is crazy I suppose but puh-lease. It’s not a smart ending and don’t try to pretend it is.

    But what really annoyed me about it was the vague nod to social media. I’ve yet to see a film brave enough to use the instant, social element of the internet. Movies and TV always lag behind on this stuff and it’s annoying, it was years and years before you saw people using mobile phones and then the internet in TV and film… You don’t see people going off and googling on their phones, even though those are the things that people do every day. Scre4m kind of hinted there that it was going to do it. Then it completely backed away. I hate saying this because I prefer to criticise the movie for what I’ve seen as opposed to the movie I wanted to see but… all I’m saying is that they opened the door then chickened out of walking through it.

    Just as an aside, the only film I’m seen so far that’s done a proper nod to social media was No Strings Attached. Hollywood, I am not impressed.

  4. comment-avatar
    TrevApril 18, 2011 - 11:53 am

    Jill as the killer I didn’t predict. Is that because the film managed to do something new and interesting with its final act twist, or because the twist was so ridiculous and absurd that no one could have ever predicted it?

    I know Ehren Kruger came in for late rewrites, the hospital scene was part of the rewrite.
    I knew that Williamson had written it with the idea of being a new trilogy, but the end of Scream 4 left nowhere for 5 and 6 to go that the earlier films hadn’t already gone.
    But if it had ended ten minutes earlier (like it was supposed to), the sequels could have delved into the prominence of the killer in the horror genre – something that the previous films, due to their mystery plots, could never do. That would have been something interesting that would have actually left me excited for further films. But to end ANOTHER film with Sidney, Gale, and Dewey as the main survivors just felt same-old, same-old and with little interest in another film.

    But then again the appeal of Scream is completely based on guessing who the killer is. If we know who it is, how would future movies be different from slashers like Halloween or Friday the 13th?

    + Do I really want more movies with Jill as the killer? BLA!

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