As my wife and I sat in the theater last night, semi-packed with 20-somethings feeling somewhat nostalgic at the opportunity to be reintroduced to Ghostface, one of the scariest horror movie killers of all time, I was almost giddy at the release of this film. Yes, I as a believer enjoy a good (there are qualifications for what I consider ‘good’, most of this genre probably is not) horror film, and I write about why here. Needless, to say I was gearing up to revisit what I consider one of the greatest horror films of all time Scream, and I had one question amongst my usually high expectations: will 4 be as good as the first? What we quickly discovered was after the roller-coaster opening, we were set to watch much of the same twists of the original, all over again.
Even the movie poster touts: New decade, new rules. We’re reminded by one of the cinema-junkies of the movie that you make the remake to outdo the original. But honestly, c’mon, how often does any remake outdo the original?! LOTR is an exception, and possibly in other genres this happens occasionally, but rarely if ever does a horror sequel out do the original, yet with an 11-year hiatus (much needed after the pathetic third installment), Scream 4 certainly didn’t leave fans disappointed, because as Slate’s review (www.slate.com) reminds us “though critics and the movie’s ever-discerning characters refer to Scream 4 (Dimension) as a reboot, it’s more like a reversion—an abandonment of the New Scream formula in favor of Scream Classic.”
The opening sequence is a twisted start by making us realize we’re watching a movie, within a movie, within a movie. Two teenage girls are killed by a Facebook stalker, which turns out to be the beginning of Stab 7 (Stab movies are remakes of the original Westboro killings, which are the preface for the Scream trilogy). Stab 7 ends with stabbing as well and then Scream 4 actually begins.
What made the original Scream such a success was that through it’s witty humor and horror was woven in an intense self-awareness about the genre itself. The original Scream cast knew very well the rules of the game, and touted in arrogance their ability to not fall prey to the same ploys as the characters in those ‘other’ horror movies.
This reboot or ‘reversion’ has got to be the most self-aware and descriptive movie about this generation (Generation Me) I’ve ever seen, which seems to be it’s driving force up until the final, dramatic end. Wes Craven, 71, understands this generation very well. The killer doesn’t rely on out-dated landlines, but instead calls/texts his next victims on their iPhones. The characters, chat, tweet and text each other throughout the entire movie and in fact, was one of the most subtle and scariest parts of the entire film: Every character was connected to their friends through a number of technological means, but that still couldn’t protect them from being killed.
Yet, the most brilliant and driving force of self-awareness was not the iPhones or text messages, but was the fact that as the character’s remind us, in order for this new generation’s killer to be made famous, he would have to be filming the murders. We do, after all live in the highly voyeuristic, Youtube generation and Craven absolutely banks on this. Unlike in past horror films, where many murders occur in secret, every murder in this film is being filmed and many are watching it take place live. This is the killer’s objective in pursuing fame is to upload all the killings, create their own movie and in an instant be come an internet sensation.
This was the take-home message of the film: what will this generation do to be famous. Fame is literally within reach of millions of teenagers, like never before. In the past teens generally have to have some scrap of talent for sport or music and then play that talent out in front of their peers, yet today, thanks to the Internet and sites like Youtube, the world is their audience and many will do whatever it takes to be famous.
Fame is a fickle thing. It is a fluid concept that as soon as you attain it, you might lose it. Fame was the killers objective, yet as the film portrays, fame destroys you in the process. As the killer touts “I don’t want friends, I want fans!” and then is surrounded by flashing lights of the paparazzi we are quickly jolted back into reality of the evils of pursuing fame and the end result of those who will do anything to attain it.
As worshipers of God we must remember even in our own lives that God is the Creator and Sustainer of all, and he does not share his glory with anyone. And in a generation, where it’s so easy, even for believer’s to build our own name through various outlets of social media, we must remember the dangers of being puffed up with pride and reflect God’s glory, not ours.