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<I>Scream 4</i>: It’s Like The CW, But Covered in Blood

Scream 4 had some harsh realities to face when it was coming together. For one thing, it's been 11 long years since the third movie and the horror landscape has changed dramatically since then -- the masses are now more into low budget ghost stories like Paranormal Activity and torture porn like Saw than slasher flicks. Plus, there's a whole new generation of kids who have no idea who Neve Campbell even is. And then there's the small issue of the fact that nobody at all was clamoring for this franchise to return. But, somewhat amazingly, director Wes Craven and screenwriter (and WB/CW phenom) Kevin Williamson reunited to stab those obstacles into submission, and the result is one of the smartest, most entertaining films I've seen in ages.

The movie wisely functions as more of a distant follow-up to the first film than one building upon the trilogy, meaning you can have a mere passing memory of the first Scream and have forgotten almost everything entirely about the second and third installments (like I have, to be honest) and jump right into Scream 4 without any confusion. Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is now a world famous survivor and has written an inspirational bestseller about overcoming perpetual victimhood. When she goes back to her hometown on her book tour (with her wonderfully bitchy publicist, played by Alison Brie), she runs into a jealous Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), who is now married to the town sheriff Dewey (David Arquette) and is suffering a delightfully foul-mouthed case of writer's block. Oh, and Ghostface returns to re-terrorize Sidney and bloody up damn near every actor on The CW, who just happen to exclusively populate this town. Which is a lot of fun, particularly if you've ever wanted to see certain Life Unexpected and 90210 characters savagely murdered. Not saying I'm that kind of sicko, but just in case you are...

The usual task of throwing out red herrings until each one is systematically murdered and the real killer is revealed is dispensed, but to be honest, I didn't really care that much about the murder mystery because the constant quick-witted, acerbic dialogue in the movie is such a rollicking good time it was all I wanted to focus on. Scream 4 satirizes multiple corners of pop culture -- remakes and reboots in general, the pervasiveness of social media, the perceived woeful current state of celebrity, the sheer reactionary and stupid nature of the news media, that way that publicists tend to be shallow assholes -- on top of the horror conventions the original also skewered, and not only is it done intelligently and hilariously, none of it is cloying or tired. It's kind of unbelievable. Ordinarily I need to hear yet another diatribe about how you don't have to achieve anything to get famous anymore like a hole in the head, but those assertions in this movie had me rolling.

And as for the gore? The gore is top notch. I'm talking entrails on the ground and knives through skulls, people. It's beautiful. Some critics are complaining that the movie isn't particularly scary, and that's true, it isn't, but it's also not really trying to be. Its main aim is to be fun, funny and gross, but it also shoots for the thought-provoking stars and doesn't embarrass itself in the process. This film towers above hackneyed horror films, and as an unnecessary, cash-grabby fourth sequel, it's a far better movie than it ever had any right to be.

Tell us what you thought of the movie below, then see our list of the cast's screaming failures!

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