Stickin' it to the man since 1927.
This franchise needs to die
By Danny Nunez
In hindsight, Wes Carven’s Scream series was never actually good. Some will claim that the group of films helped revitalize a dying genre and created a unique breed of horror for a new generation.
However, look at the series for what it really is – a condescending take on slasher films that sees itself as being above the very genre it belongs too – and you will realize just how obsolete it is.
Arguably, the self-reflexive nature of the films was the most popular selling point. Audiences took delight in watching genre-savvy characters spouting off rules such as “Don’t split up,” or “The killer always makes one last attempt before dying.”
We identified with these characters because they were smarter than the usual horror movie fodder. Little did we know that there was another joke we were not in on. Namely, that Scream engages in a perpetual cycle of hatred. Scream hates you, the audience. It hates movies. It hates itself.
So it comes as really no surprise that the latest iteration in the series, Scre4m (Screfourm? The title itself seems like another arrogant riff on the genre), is really lazy and unimaginative.
On the anniversary of the events of the first film, Sidney (Neve Campbell) makes her return to Woodsboro, where she is greeted by reporter Gail (Courtney Cox), now retired and married to Deputy Dewey (David Arquette).
The casting itself serves as another example of how outdated the series is; does anybody actually care about these ‘90s relics?
Anyways, eventually someone starts making creepy phone calls and bodies start piling up. None of the details in the story actually matter, because the film takes it as an opportunity to take some cheap shots at horror.
Want proof that the movie hates you?
Countless jump scares abound to the point where it becomes monotonous, and eventually the film becomes the exact thing it mocks.
That is the point of this exhausting and obnoxious post modern experiment. Horror movies have become a droning experience; and what better way to mock this than by perpetuating the same, right?
Even worse, the film is riddled with references to classics of the genre. The characters name-drop everything from Don’t Look Now to Suspiria; one can glimpse posters for The Thing and The Hills Have Eyes in a few of the scenes.
At one point, the characters even watch Shaun of the Dead, which merely serves as a reminder of what can be accomplished when this sort of self-reflexive material is put into the hands of a filmmaker that actually cares.
In a horror movie that mocks its genre, the allusions merely come across as disrespectful. By mocking horror as formulaic and unoriginal, the implication becomes that all the movies referenced within are also formulaic and unoriginal – an ironic point once you consider that director Wes Craven also directed the original The Hills Have Eyes.
There was a time when Craven’s (lack of) directorial style could be considered raw and gritty.
The Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes certainly benefited from it. However, Scre4m causes me to doubt my previous ideas on Craven.
Being a lousy director is one thing; being a lousy director on purpose because you hate horror movies is another. It is clear that Craven has grown to resent the genre that made him famous, and uses his latest movie to take it out on the audience that rejected him.
The future of horror does not lie (and never did) in this spiteful product. It lies in filmmakers like Eli Roth and Rob Zombie whose Hostel and Halloween movies, respectively, show how to make a proper metafictional horror movie without devolving into hatred for the genre.