‘Scream 4’: Critics divided — is the film fun, stupid fun or just stupid?

April 15, 2011 | 3:36 p.m.
scream 42 Scream 4: Critics divided    is the film fun, stupid fun or just stupid?

Neve Campbell stars in "Scream 4." (MCT)

Wondering whether you should answer the call and take a chance on “Scream 4” this weekend?

Critic Peter Travers writes in Rolling Stone that despite the “diabolically funny start and a surprise climax” the movie isn’t worth your time, and Michael O’Sullivan’s review in the Washington Post offers one of the stranger metaphors in recent cinema criticism by calling the Wes Craven film “a 17-year-old bulimic girl … alternately bingeing on cheesy slasher-flick cliches, purging, by pointing out, over and over, just how gag-me-with-a spoon cheesy they are.” Roger Ebert just seemed weary after seeing the movie, reflecting on “one victim after another being slashed, skewered, stabbed, gutted and sliced, with everyone in on the joke” before shaking his head at the reader with this closing line: “Maybe that’s your idea of a good time.”

The “good-start-but-slow-middle” assessment popped up again in the review by Jordan Hoffman at UGO:  “It starts out great and the final 25 minutes are genuinely thrilling and quite funny. A few things don’t make sense (is Courtney [sic] Cox really the only person in the world that can solve a Ghostface crime?) and a character misuses the phrase ‘begs the question,’ but these are trifles. Yes, the middle sags a bit, but not so much that it breaks anything. Perhaps a writer as sharp as Williamson understands the importance of allowing for a pee break.”

Here at the Los Angeles Times, critic Betsy Sharkey is far more tolerant of the return of Neve Campbell in the role of the ever-on-the-run Sidney.  “Just when it seemed the joke might be played out, along comes ‘Scream 4‘ with director Wes Craven sharpening his cutting edge and going all meta and physical on us…. The good news is the satire is in top form with the return of writer Kevin Williamson, the clever mind who created the 1996 original ‘Scream’ and its not-as-killer ’97 sequel (Ehren Kruger managed a decent upgrade on ‘Scream 3’ and did an uncredited polish on this one). Any worries that the biting TV adaptation of ‘The Vampire Diaries,’ on which he is an executive producer, might have sucked up all his creative juices can be set aside. Williamson makes the most of every line, so much so that it will require multiple watching to get all the allusions.”

Wait, multiple watchings? Well, maybe Eric Goldman at IGN will join her for a Sunday matinee encore. He writes in his review:   “It’s Craven’s best film since ‘Scream 2,’ back in 1997, as the veteran horror director seems to flourish (‘Scream 3’ aside) when telling a story of this sort and balancing the comedy and horror elements…. It definitely works as a thrill ride and if you’re a fan of this franchise, it provides exactly the kind of horror meets comedy tone you want from a ‘Scream’ film.”

— Geoff Boucher


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12 Responses to ‘Scream 4’: Critics divided — is the film fun, stupid fun or just stupid?

  1. Austin says:

    I want to know if this movie is good? because it looks good…and stupid at the same time. I loved the first three…this one just looks comedy and sort of scary please let me know ASAP!!!

  2. Rifah Odeh says:

    “if you’re a fan of this franchise, it provides exactly the kind of horror meets comedy tone you want from a ‘Scream’ film.”

    False. If you are a fan of the franchise, before you go see the film, it’s good to keep in mind that the the comedy tone completely outweighs the horror aspect of the film. That should keep you from being as disappointed as I was.

  3. Hayley says:

    It's a movie specifically designed to appeal to the teenagers and pre-teens who got together to watch the first Scream movie on the sly at a sleep over, or with a group of friends and a few beers a couple of years later. Just saw it at the cinema and there wasn't a person under 20 in the room. Probably a good job as the movie was basically a homage to the first movie, so packed with 'in jokes' and Scream 1 references that anyone looking for the new 'Saw' would be sadly disappointed and most definitely confused. Is it any good? No, not really. As a stand alone movie it quite frankly does not stand up. As a guilty pleasure for those wanting to hark back to yester year and see the old characters stick two fingers up at the fame-hungry youth of 2011.. Yes, it's a jumpy, funny, and slick ride down memory lane.

  4. Julie says:

    hey if want to see scream 4. i would soo recommend it!! i literally just saw it 2hours ago, first night it opened and let me say one thing AMAZING!! i was so sure that i knew who the killer was but i was totally wrong. im soo buying it on dvd so i can watch it all the timess.. omg! im soo creeped out in my house right now :D watch it!! ppl!!

  5. Jessica says:

    scream 4 was soo funny but soo scary n intresting i would watch it again n again cuz i would never gues who the real killer was. During the movie you might think you know who the killer is but you'll never guess! who it really was. i just saw it and trust me its a shockerr!!

  6. flipflopscity says:

    I watched the first Scream the other night and thought it was actually pretty good fun. Not sure this one is going to come anywhere close by the sounds of things which is a shame as I hate it when studios just run off endless sequel spinoffs (Police Academy 7 anyone?).

    I guess if you're going to see it just suspend your critical nodes and go for the popcorn. Personally I'd rather cut the grass.

  7. Stephen says:

    I absolutely loved this movie it was awesome exspecially the ending i was like what the f*** but ya it was funny and scary….i loved itt

  8. dano43 says:

    i want to syart by saying that remember people this si a sequal and like all sequals it will never beat the freshness the original had at all, however this is an awsome take on the franchise they have managed to keep it very witty and comical as they always have with referrence jokes to not only other horror films but to its self through adn through it is so so self aware that its brillent you also haver t concider that scince the original release of scream we have have had way more shocking gory movies i.e saw very good at being gory and horrific but there is no substence to them only the gore where as scream challenges that and keeps it very much like the original i am till death fan of al the scream movies yes even number 3 althou it is my least fav, i think kevin and wez should be sooo proud of them selves they managed to deliver exactly what all the extreme fans wanted, loved the twist at the end very funny and shocking all at the same time

  9. cmrok93 says:

    Surprisingly awesome for a series that seemed like it was wearing a bit thin towards the end there. The film is more suspenseful than it is actually scary, but being a fan of the whole series (even the 3rd), I had a great time with this film. Good review, check out mine when you can!

  10. quentin t. says:

    Sorry the film was really stupid i can't find any differences between this and the scary movie franchise.
    Trivial, sloppy and foreseeable.

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