On the fifteenth anniversary of the first Woodsboro murders, as detailed in the first Scream film, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) returns to town on a book tour. Sidney has long ago gotten over the horrors of the events of the first three films and lives her life fear-free. Sheriff Dewey Riley (David Arquette) maintains the peace in the now relatively quiet town, living the simple life with his wife, Gail Weathers (Courteney Cox). The Riley’s marriage isn’t all it could be, however, as an eager young deputy has her love-lorn sites set on Dewey and Gail has become despondent over not being a reporter anymore and finding it more and more difficult to write. Of course it wouldn’t be a true reunion in Woodsboro if it didn’t include Ghostface (voiced by Roger L. Jackson). Yes, our favorite psychopathic serial murderer who could be anyone is back to terrorize the town and rack up an impressive body count.
The first two Scream films were pretty amazing and really redefined the horror film genre. Wes Craven has always been a master director, but it was Kevin Williamson’s satirical and self-referentially deprecating scripts that really made Scream and Scream 2 something special. While Craven returned for the third installment, Williamson was forced to bow out, leaving only some notes to go by. This resulted in Scream 3 being a rather weak film and not at all what was expected as the closing part of the trilogy. This disappointment seem to signal the end of the franchise, but, much like Ghostface, the series has risen again. Thankfully, Williamson is back on scripting duties and he proves to be as sharp as ever right off the bat in the opening sequence. He immediately pokes fun at the film convention of having a film within a film by cleverly showing a film within a film…within a film. It beautifully does the dual job of setting the tone for the film and letting you know that the film series is back with a slashing vengeance.
Along with returning vets Campbell, Arquette, Cox and Jackson, we get a whole slew of new potential victims, most notably Emma Roberts as Sidney’s cousin Jill, Mary McDonnell as Sidney’s aunt Kate, Hayden Panettiere as Jill’s best friend Kirby, Marley Shelton as Deputy Hicks, Anthony Anderson as Deputy Anthony Perkins (heh) and of course there are the resident film geeks around to explain the rules, Charlie Walker, played by Rory Culkin and Robbie Mercer, played by Erik Knudsen. There are quite a few more characters present, but, really, you know they are all just cannon fodder, right? And, of course, there is the lovely return of the franchise within a franchise in the form of the Stab films, the first one apparently directed by Robert Rodriguez.
I don’t think the plot really needs discussing here as it is worth discovering the twists and turns for yourself. That’s sort of the fun of every Scream film, more so here. Talking about nay of the details would only reveals spoilers that you don’t really want to know in advance. Of course, the biggest question hanging out there is probably whether or not Sidney, Dewey and Gail survive until the end or if any of them become victims of the new Ghostface killer. No, I’m not going to alleviate your anxiety over that, instead I’ll simply suggest you review the rules of a returning franchise and what generally happens to returning characters. And that may not really give you a clue. However, I will say that this is a very fun movie and possibly the best Scream film since the original. Fans of the franchise will not be disappointed and those that are just joining will find some fun thrills and chills and even a surprise or to. Either way, it’s a new decade, with new rules.