Scream 4: Our First Thoughts (Spoiler-Free)

Last night, Scream-Trilogy attended a combo press/advance screening for the Australian release of Scream 4 via Roadshow Films. Here are my first thoughts, spoiler-free and detail-free. You can read our official review with spoilers once the film is released!

But first some setup. When I got to the screening there were ticket takers (or scanners, my invite was barcoded) and ushers dressed up as Ghostface. It was like, in a small way, Scream 2‘s opening scene and only served to set up the evening show’s amazing mindf**k on film courtesy of Kevin Williamson & Wes Craven.

The opening scene is very… complex. It deconstructs how we think Scream opening scenes are supposed to play out, and characters actually voice this. So basically the opening scene is about opening scenes. This is our introduction to the meta element of Scream 4 that will have us discussing the implications for a long time after release.

The new cast does fine, not a loser in the bunch. Not every character seems to live in the same world – by and all most characters are approached seriously, but you also have the extremely cartoonish Rebecca (Alison Brie) and the homely, subtly creepy Deputy Judy (Marley Shelton). It reminds me of the original Scream where you had characters like Dewey and Himbry to give the audience a laugh between all the mayhem.

And there’s a lot of mayhem. After all the introductions are out of the way in act one, it seemed almost wall-to-wall kills! Killscene, talkscene, killscene, talkscene. I’m sure it wasn’t that way, I just remember while watching it thinking to myself “hey wait! I know Scream structure! You can’t have another death so soon!” but they went there. But the deaths aren’t just there to dazzle, each one felt integral to the plot and pushed things forward. Here the deaths represent something more than simple bodycount.

Let’s talk core cast: they give this movie heart. I’m a dude that scoffs at the notion of heart, but damn it if one of the dialogue scenes between two old characters didn’t make me well up. I’ve always said one or more of them should be killed to advance the plot (hey, I’m a story man) but just seeing these characters have a chance to sit down and talk like real human beings, it hit me: Sidney, Dewey and Gale are family to us. Fictional as they are, they’ve been through a lot, and so have we the audience as we’ve been captive to watch them work through it and achieve those minor victories between massacres.

So you want to know if any of the main three die and if so which one. I won’t say, obviously, but I’ll say this: no one gets out unscathed. It’s not about life or death anymore, for me. We’ll talk more about this in my official review towards the end of the week but like so many things in this movie, my preconceived notions of how Screams are supposed to play out and should play out, have been fucked with, reversed, and thrown back at me.

Onto the killer. Is the killer’s identity organic to the story? Is their motive credible? Yes on both counts! The problems I (and audiences when I saw those films) had with the reveals of Scream 2 and 3 were that ancillary characters were under the mask and while I understood who they were, the audience didn’t. Lots of “who the hell is that!?” And that was because of weakly-developed scripts in those cases (Scream 2 and 3). No such issue with Scream 4, like the original Scream everyone immediately understood the identity of the culprit (or culprits) once revealed. And that’s no spoiler at all, but rather an indication that almost every character in the movie is properly sketched out. What impressed me about the motive is that the killer didn’t spend 7 hours explaining it to whoever is left standing! I know slashers have an inherent need to confess, but overexplaining something to who you want to kill instead of killing them has always struck me as corny. Here we get enough of a taste to know why everything went down, but then it’s quickly back into the action. I liken the pacing of the reveal/motive scene to Scream 1 and that’s a good comparison point because that film was perfect.

By now we know how Scream climaxes play out. And get ready for my broken record response: they twist it and mess with our minds. The comparison that keeps coming up in my head is the season 2 finale of Lost. That was a show that took place entirely on craphole island up to that point, but the last scene of season 2 took us to the outside world, which blew our minds because it was so against established structure. And that’s what my comparison here is really about, what the climax does to Scream structure and how far back it dares to pull the curtain, when your mind has been telling you for 15 years that they never will, is amazing. Scream 1 took place in the real world, that is it was plausible, while the sequels increasingly gave viewers safe detachment from the events on-screen since they could never really go down that way (only partially so for part 2, but almost completely for part 3). So in that sense, Scream 4 takes place in the real world, reflecting our own reality back at us through the cinema screen.

At the moment this movie ties with part 2 for me, but it just might be better. It has the edge on logic, and its willingness to break Scream structure is like a cappuccino after a decade of yawnfests which saw me stop watching modern horror save for a few. If there are any negatives, they are minor and I’ll be sure to discuss them through the official review. But my early thoughts? Scream 4 is an astoundingly clever sequel that will be difficult to top.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

67 Responses to “ Scream 4: Our First Thoughts (Spoiler-Free) ”

Reader Advisory: Comments may contain SCREAM 4 SPOILERS
  1. Thanks so much! Can’t wait!

  2. Thanks for this! :)

  3. Awesome!!!!!

  4. Thanks! I’m soooo excited!

  5. Great first thoughts! That’s enough to keep me satisfied until I see the movie this Friday!


    I cant friggin wait

  7. ……..

    YYEEEEEEESSSSS! Cannot wait.

  8. Sounds stellar.

  9. AMAZING :]]]]

  10. must stop reading.

    i think i’ll wait. should i? im confused. im helpless. april 15th please come.

  11. i can’t flippn wait!!!!!!! i’m so not going to school that day. I have to see this! LOLLLLLLL

  12. I loved your review! :D I’m way more excited to see this film :D
    I loved how you described your opinion without giving too much away! :D

  13. Did you feel they cut out too much character growth and development in favor of more action ?

  14. p.s. I loved LOST so am especially intrigued by your referencing the climax of S4 to the climax of season 2 of LOST. Hmmm. This has gotten me much more pumped and excited for Friday! Thank you.

  15. Now I’m really excited!!!!

  16. i love you. jk but thank you for providing non-spoilery information

  17. I am so excited!

  18. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! You have me so stoked for this film… really can’t wait til Friday.

  19. If you had the movie spoiled (and I’m sure you did) did it ruin the film at all? I ask because I think I have had it spoiled. In a way did it make it better? I would love to hear your opinion and thanks for the review.

  20. Sounds AMAZING! I just hope the ending isn’t a dumb “It was all a movie” conclusion. I know it won’t happen but with people talking about all these twists and turns I’m prepared for anything. And Scream 2 is my FAVORITE, so hearing this is tied with that one or even better is GREAT news to me.

  21. The twists in lost were mind-blowingly AWESOME! So glad you compared it to that, now I’m even more excited (if that’s possible) :D

  22. Talk about a Mindfuck that overview (thoughts)just left me, i dunno unable to process, how the movie could be so twisty turny, trying to think oooo what could these twists be, how could they do this…now im more curious about the twists then anything…Haha. Good job! Maybe i cant process because im so excited my mind just melted.


  24. I am ~quivering~ with anticipation. I don’t know if I can wait until Friday to see this!

    I’ve remained relatively spoiler-free, but I am SO tempted to read every last letter in the board’s spoiler section. Jesus, please give me strength!

  25. I just have to keep thinking 2 Days ,I have 2 days to go.Lol
    Your review as it stands has me worried,not that it will suck but that it will affect the original trilogy(however much I’m glad it’s better then Scream3)
    Well you’ve definitely got me thinking.
    can’t wait.

  26. @Khy: I’m also hoping they won’t go that it-was-all-a-movie route. And Scream 2 is my favourite too!

    So can’t wait for this!

  27. Thanks for your thoughts, I am sad that the movie is not here so you could really express you entire emotion about the movie without spoiling us but it was well worded. Sadly, this has done nothing but make me want to watch the movie even more. I want to go into a quick coma and wake up on April 15th. I felt like they were going to try to aim to do something like what you describe. Like how the first Scream commented on the horror genre, it sounds to me that this Scream will comment on the horror genre and what Scream (Stab) has effected it. We knew there was going to be alot of references to the first Scream but man I don’t know if I am ready for them to mess with the traditional openning sequence.

  28. I agree with most of what you said. I was disappointed by the opening, although it begins with several incredibly well done gags that helped a lot to let out the pressure that has mounted after 11 years. Open with a joke and let your guard down.

    As for the characters, I definitely agree. All the characters get a good chunk of screen time, definitely enough to make viewers know who they are should they reach the ending.

    And, like you, I loved the way it toyed with us at the end. Craven and Williamson are making us go through a maze. We know the way, but something is different and it alters everything that we can perceive and feel. It’s actually a great movie.

  29. so you are saying there is in fact only one killer? Whack.

  30. amazing article. but i have to stick with what i’ve been saying from the very beginning. if Sidney gets killed,there is no scream. PERIOD. of course i haven’t sen it yet but,that’s just how i feel at the moment.

  31. That’s absolutely amazing! I can’t wait to watch this movie..

  32. you just made me wish i can fast forward my life to friday!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  33. AWESOME! Can’t wait!!!

  34. How in the hell is this non spoiler?

  35. This review only upset me because I haven’t seen the movie yet and I have to wait until Friday to see it. I have waited for this for over a year and I’m amped to find out the mystery of the latest installment.

  36. Oh crap, now i really think Sidney dies.

  37. So I take it having spoilers shoved down your throat didn’t take away much of the viewing experience? lol

  38. This has me even more excited now! Only a few more days!

  39. Thank you Wicked, you have put my fears to rest. I feel you and I (as well as many others here) share a bond with these films and I’m really excited to see them throw me for a loop. I’m happy to hear you also care about the original trio too, good to know ahead of time that they all share a very nice scene. Thank you so much for non-spoilers, we all really appreciate it and look forward to talking to you after the film releases.

  40. “like the original Scream everyone immediately understood the identity of the culprit (or culprits) once revealed.”

    This part makes me so happy!!! Thats one major thing that seperates 2 & 3 from the original for me. Obviously I knew who the killers were once revealed but they just weren’t THAT memorable in the movie before that point.

  41. Can you ask a non spolier question? What was the running time? :)

  42. Can’t wait for the official review after I watch the movie *-*

  43. Good things came to those who waited! 3 days!!!

  44. @wissig4ever – I’ll talk about the impact of spoilers on my enjoyment in the “official” review. ;)

    @paparobzzi – I wasn’t able to time it but it did feel pretty lengthy, maybe 110 mins. Sorry! :|

  45. no its okay…thanks a lot :)
    that is the running-time that is circulating on the internet. I just wanted to confirm :)

  46. and 110 minutes is a great span of time :)

  47. Current Spoiler Free reviews that have been released so far, all mainly positive on or two good but slghtly negative ones. Until the rest are released, apparently theres an embargo until wednesday or thursday from major reviews being released… Most of these are full on reviews (The most official is one from LOVEFILM.COM), theres one or two that are just thoughts…Ive read them all there all *Spoiler Free*….

    Hope these are helpful, some are really hidden.

  48. I recently saw the Runtime listed as 1h 43mins.

  49. All the uk Cinemas have it listed at 111 mins runtime and some reviews do, that is the official running time.

  50. i think around 103 min. winthout credits and 111 with credits ^^

  51. Credits didn’t feel like 7 minutes long, they got only two songs in.

  52. No all scream credits have been about 6 mins 20 secs give or take about 10 secs. Id say 1hr 46mins would be about right, 5/6 mins could easily be 2 songs.

  53. This is incredible news!!! So glad to hear such a glowing review from so credible a source! I have been shielding myself from any and all spoilers. Hell, I don’t even know half of the new character’s names. I don’t want to. I want to be as oblivious, and as blown away as I was when I saw Scream 1 so many years ago. Can’t wait to join the boards when they open back up. Thanks again for this refreshing Spoiler-Free review!!!

  54. The only thing disappointing about this movie is that its out on Friday (Friday, gotta get down on Friday…)

  55. Can’t wait!!! Friday is just three days away…FINALLY!!!!!!

  56. Just wanted to let you know that this review is wonderful. You addressed all of my questions, qualms, and fears about the film without spilling the T or overly coloring my expectations. Thank you, for giving me just enough dish to help me stay satiated until opening weekend. CHEERS!

  57. FUCK YOU SEB HOPE. I spent all this time trying to figure out where to find an official review, and when I do….YOU SPOIL ALL MY EXCITMENT OF POSTING THE LINK…nahh, I’m just playin. U did ruin it but I aint mad. Here’s the link though, if its alright with you(wicked-scribe) I don’t wanna clash or nothin.

  58. @ wicked-scribe Thanks for posting a spoiler-free review. Was the movie scary?

  59. FINALLY !! The movie’s finally out in France, and I walked out of the theatre 1 hour ago. Now I have to recover from this mind-blowing experience before deciding if I prefer the original or this one !
    I absolutely agree with your review. The opening scene took everybody by surprise in the theatre, even if the original’s is still the most memorable.
    The cast is one of the brightest points of the movie : they’re amazing, some of them as good as, say, Rose McGowan or Parker Posey. Amazing !
    I knew that the killings were brutal but… wow ! You have to see it to believe it !
    Even more than Scream 2 and 3, Scream 4 makes you believe that anything can happen, you can feel the danger from the first to the last second of the movie. And it’s by far the darkest installment of the series, especially once the killer(s)’s motives are revealed. That being said, the ability of the movie to scare you and to make you laugh at the same time is astonishing and refreshing.
    In the first review you posted in January, the climax was described as “insanity”… well, I can’t think of a better word to describe it : the “New decade, new rules” tagline is really central to the movie, and the final act is one of the cleverest things I’ve ever seen.
    As for the future, Kevin Williamson apparently already envisioned a 5th and a 6th movies, but one can only guess what could happen after this.
    It felt like 1996-2000 all over again in that theatre today (except that I felt old in this teenage crowd, I’m 26 now !). Scream opened new horizons in 1996, and Scream 4 is now doing exactly the same. Now I hope that, in the near future, we will live this journey again for 2 more sequels and that Scream-Trilogy and you, Wicked-Scribe, will be there to guide us !

  60. I saw the movie today. I didn’t like it at first when i saw it, just because all the scares and shocks had been spoilt by the trailers, clips and tv spots. It’s a shame, because I think I really would have been terrified by it if I hadn’t known certian things would happen.
    I loved the opening scene,it was clever and shocking, but I wish it went for longer – it went by so quickly!
    I loved the first half of the movie simply because of its clever mix of deaths and comedy, and we got to feel for every character because of their great introductions.
    The second half of the movie seemed a bit rushed and the death scenes seemed very random and predictable. Again,I suppose this is due to the spoiler-filled trailers.
    The twist was okay, but I didn’t really think that the motives supported it or made sense. The moments afterthe killer/s identity is revealed were very clever and insane. By far the best climax of the series. I will admit that the ending seeemed very abrupt though…
    Overall it was a great movie and scary for many people. I wish it was more adventurous with all the new features of this decade, but it was very well done. The gore was very over-the-top, but I would love to see this movie again!

  61. excited can’t wait to see this movie

  62. You meant Lost season 3. S2 ended on the island, S3 didn’t.

  63. Man, I can’t convey enough how let down I feel. (*Spoilers*)

    The weird thing is seeing how many good ideas they had. I can buy the fact of what happened during the end, given the kind
    of world we live in (though it seems like its ripping this idea straight from Scream 2). What I can’t buy is the complete
    callousness of the characters. Maybe if we had known more about Jill and her story and how her an her mom have grown
    in Woodsboro since then I’d feel inclined to care, but I don’t.

    The original Scream movies always built up suspense. The opening with Drew. Or Cici at the Frat house. Hell, even Jennifer Jolie in the third one got to me a little. They always played with your mind and wanted to draw out the fear behind the strange phone call, or that noise from upstairs. This felt so rushed like you didn’t have any time to enjoy what was going on. To be honest, this film felt like it was shot by the same guy who did My Soul To Take (director of photography, that is, I know Craven directed both these films).

    Here’s something weird though. Even though this was taking place all around Sydney’s family, that is, her cousin and aunt,
    they didn’t really figure into the major arc of the ‘Prescott’ plot. That’s something that’s always grounded the first
    three films. The first centered around Syd’s mom, the second around Billy’s mom for revenge, and the third about her half brother.
    And even though her cousin was the fall gal it just didn’t hold up the same. It’s like they forgot what happened during the first three, even though they reference it constantly. They opened
    up some questions with the aunt when she revealed that she had scars too, but I guess it was just for red herring purposes.
    That could’ve expanded some more, though.

    But the characters seemed utterly one dimensional. As if they were too concerned for living their out their new roles in this supposed reboot. Hardly any time with Olivia. No real sense of Kirby, Charlie, or Robbie. I thought Trevor wasn’t even going to show up again after his brief line in the beginning.

    And where the hell is Dewey’s limp? He was running around like he never got stabbed 10 years ago! Hell, the police dept. as a whole seemed pretty anemic. With a mass murderer running around that obviously is patterned after some pretty gruesome events, don’t the FBI get involved at some point? Doesn’t this kind of nonsense get blown up by CNN and FOX and played out for America on the big screen? I thought the world stopped when white girls got stabbed in senseless murders so everyone could stop and feel bad for our sorry state of affairs. Scream 4 has proved me wrong. Where was the connection with reality? Maybe that’s the problem, given that our reality is now consumed by reality tv and the web, because Scream 4 was all about name dropping the social networking and becoming 2.0. Isn’t that what Scream 2 was all about?

    Maybe I’m just an old timer. That I’m just trying to relive something or recapture that lightning in a bottle from the late 90’s. I saw the first Scream when I was 13. The first three just had this different feel to it. Everything from the Dimension logo
    to the soundtrack and look and feel of the cinematography. Like
    the story was building from some kind of natural place. In this, everyone else knew more would follow, yet they still acted as if they were special or couldn’t possibly be attacked.

    I guess my biggest gripe is why the majority of characters acted like they were consigned to their fates. Like they have all this history of Woodsboro and yet they continued to act as if they had no choice but to die. Even the kills didn’t win me over so much. There wasn’t anything even remotely scary. The opening scene (despite its cleverness) lacked any true suspense. Craven directed this thing like it was “My Soul To Take” meets Scream. I really hope this puts the nail in the coffin. This series doesn’t deserve to get dragged through the mud like this any longer.

  64. You know, I’ve heard that whole “ancillary” argument before and I think it’s so stupid. If people didn’t know who the killers were in 2 and 3 they were clearly just impassive. Were they watching the movie? It’s like when I went to see Scream 4, the people beside me were talking through the whole things and barely seemed to be paying attention. How could anyone go to a Scream movie without that most basic maxim on their mind? – EVERYONE is a suspect.

  65. PS – ck25. While you have some good points, how could someone with such petty grievances have ever liked the first three in the first place? “Where the hell was Dewey’s limp?” Does it really matter? Maybe he spent ten years in physio. Who cares? A movie is an experience, not a check list.

  66. Lets face it.. Roger Jackson’s Voice was really scary in this movie… I hope you write an article about that..

    I smell Scary Movie 5 based in Scream 4, Specially in the opening sequence and the climax. And I bet that Anthony Anderson reprises his role

  67. Where is the “official” review? just curious as to whether you’re still doing that or not cause I’d love to read it.

Leave a Reply

Comment Policy: Off-topic chatter, illegible spelling/grammar, spamming, fake email addresses, attacking, and any language/behavior that goes against common sense and decency may lead to your comment being removed.

You can use these XHTML tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <strong>