by Jef Burnham
Available in a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack on October 4, 2011 from Anchor Bay Entertainment and Dimension Films.
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“How meta can you get?” asks Scream 4’s Gale Weathers-Riley (played by returning cast member Courtney Cox). And it’s an appropriate question for the most self-aware, metatextual series in the horror genre, as the Scream franchise sees its first installment in over ten years. The answer to Gale’s question with regard to this latest entry in the series, as it happens is: extremely meta. For starters, the pre-titles sequence features a pre-titles sequence within a pre-titles sequence within a pre-titles sequence, wherein the characters themselves know the rules of the movies they’re in, even if they’re not wholly sure whether or not they’re in a movie (or a movie within a movie within a movie for that matter). Thus, Kevin Williamson sets the stage for the most self-aware installment in the franchise’s history.
That’s right, after the scripting of Scream 3 was left to Ehren Kruger (Reindeer Games, the Transformers sequels)— and what a disaster that was— Kevin Williamson once again returns as screenwriter. And 15 years after the original premiered, Wes Craven is still as devoted to the series as ever, once again taking the director’s seat. Together again, the team delivers easily the best Scream film since the series’ first, even if the rules of the horror film are here more convoluted than ever. The first film, in its self-awareness, dealt simply with the rules of the slasher flick, while the second operated according to the rules of sequels, and the third according to those of the trilogy. In the new millennium, as horror films are predominantly remakes or reboots, Williamson and Craven cleverly adopt the tenets of the remake/reboot to guide the film’s murderous hand, thereby creating the exponentially more opportunities for self-referentiality.
This time around, we find Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) breaking away from her celebrity victim status with the publication of a self-help book. And the last stop on her press tour is, where else, but her home town of Woodsboro where the Ghost Face murders all began. Joined once again by Gale and her now-husband Sheriff Dewey (David Arquette), Sidney finds that her young cousin Jill (Emma Roberts) and her classmates are the targets of the latest incarnation of Ghost Face— seeking to outdo the originals in this rebooted massacre.
Anchor Bay’s release of Scream 4 is loaded with bonus features. The release includes feature commentary with Craven, Campbell, Roberts, and co-star Hayden Panattiere; a plethora of deleted and extended scenes including an alternate opening (which was rightly scrapped) and an extended ending; a gag reel; and a making-of featurette. The picture and audio on the Blu-ray disc are everything we’ve come to expect from 1080p/5.1 DTSHD-MA transfers of recent, big budget releases— by which I mean, stunning in most every way. Additionally, the combo pack also includes a digital copy so you can watch the film to go on your laptop, or even your iPod if that’s your thing.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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