Tonight I celebrated the end of a very, very long month (when semesters end, there's lots of work to do!) by heading to the local cinemaplex and taking in Scream 4.

Given the really, really bad box office numbers for the film (I was, in fact, the only one in the theater), if you want to see it on the big screen, you might want to go right now. Maybe before the weekend. Maybe before the night's over.

Scream 4 picks up the franchise ten years from the end of the last movie (which was released about ten years ago). Neve Campbell's Sydney Prescott is doing what everyone who wants to live a normal life away from fame does: she's releasing a book. On her book tour, she makes a stop in Woodsboro, her hometown and site of the Ghostface killer murders.

Of course, things go as they must, and the original threesome is back for action. Campbell looks like she's hardly aged, David Arquette mumbles his way through the film, and Courtney Cox-Arquette-Not-Arquette looks pulled and tightened. They are joined in their endeavors by a bunch of other folks who I don't recognize from much (the girl from Heroes, Julia Roberts's niece, the Home Alone kid's little brother, and Anthony Anderson--more on him in a bit).

I'm a sucker for loud noises accompanied by lunging bad guys or fake lunging bad guys, so Scream 4 worked on the level of "I occasionally nearly spilled my popcorn because I flinched."

Because the Scream-franchise is so meta-, the film takes some time to bad mouth so-called "torture porn" films like Saw, and though we do see a glimpse of intestines, which I don't remember the Scream films showing before, the movie keeps its wounds bloody but not overly gruesome.

Scream 4 is painfully self-aware. It's like the characters know they're being watched and are watching the people watch them. The film tries to account for the social networking technologies that have taken hold since the last entry in the franchise, and in the end feels a little like a Johnny-come-lately on that front. We've already had movies where the killer worries about filming things, and we've already had movies that deal with--better--using media to achieve fame. (To Die For is the only Nicole Kidman film I could tolerate watching a second time.)

It is what it is, and when it tries to be more, Scream 4 feels really old. Or maybe, it feels like the guy who graduated a while ago, but still goes to the Homecoming game wearing his "Go, Cougars!" t-shirt having not really moved beyond the fun times everyone had hanging out at the water tower after school.

It's too bad, because I really like director Wes Craven. Since you'll probably have to rent Scream 4, anyway, do yourself a favor and rent Shocker, instead.

I give Scream 4 a sad-faced one-and-a-half out of five stars.


This is Anthony Anderson:

He's notable because he appeared in Scream 4 and the spoof-of-Scream film Scary Movie 4.

And, if you really pay attention, you'll notice that his character's name is Anthony Perkins. Yes, THAT Anthony Perkins.

His scary movie was much better.