Scream 4: A (spoiler-free) Writer’s Review

Posted: April 24, 2011 in All, Horror, Movies, Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Randy did it.

That’s what I thought about Scream 3. Randy had somehow faked his death in Scream 2, and he was the killer in 3.

The characters in 3 found a video made of him, so he still appeared in that movie, but he was long gone.

But I was still holding out hope for him to appear again in 4. Maybe he was severely scarred, and wheelchair bound, and ordering Ghostface around remotely.

Then Neve Campbell’s Sidney would round a corner in a creepy old house and find him during the parlor scene.

I had it all in my head.

And that’s what made the movies successful. Any one of the red herrings could be a decent movie. The fact that you’ll never really guess the killer is inconsequential. You’re building a movie in your head.

Part 4 made me feel the same way part 1 did: Not fear, but that sustained tension for 90 minutes because you don’t know what is going to happen.

It also threw more red herrings at you than Lew Zealand.

Movie makers want to crank out sequels as quickly as possible, but Scream 4 benefited from the distance of 11 years.

It made use of technology that has made it that much easier to reach out and touch someone. Everyone has cell phones. An App that makes your voice sound like Ghostface. A GPS in a phone.

It’s a much better movie than if they had just made another one a year after part 3.

My only complaint – the only whole in the plot – was that after all that’s happened to Sidney Prescott, why isn’t she carrying a gun?

The first time she sees a killing, she charges into the house to save the person or catch the killer. Imagine if she’s got a gun at the time. She fires into Ghostface’s chest.

“Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight!”

It doesn’t matter if Ghostface disappears. Maybe he was wearing a bulletproof vest. Maybe the bullet just grazed him. The point is, she does the smart thing and shoots him.

Even better, what if she kills him. The mask comes off, and it’s some teenager no one knows. Then, a few minutes later, the killings continue. It would have been a total switch.

As a writer, I wondered what they could have done to make it bigger and better than all the previous efforts.

What I learned was that you shouldn’t rely on one thing. If it had been a huge change, you could have lost some viewers. There’s a contract with your audience that they expect certain things. You can’t change them. You’re trapped in that aspect.

Instead, they changed many little things. The killer using a webcam, for instance. Not the first time a killer’s done this in a movie, but it was an evolution that made sense. There are other little changes, but I don’t want to do spoilers.

So, if you’re lucky enough to be writing a sequel to something, control yourself. Don’t make it too big of a jump for viewers, or they might fall.

Did anyone think that Emma Roberts was filmed in soft focus all the time? Or maybe she just exists in soft focus.

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  1. […] Scream 4: A (spoiler-free) Writer’s Review […]

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