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Scream 4

Good slasher fun is marred by lectures about the good old days.

What are you gonna do with kids these days? Kill ’em, I guess. It works in this slasher reboot.

Wes Craven (My Soul to Take) wants you damn kids to get off of his lawn. Also, the director wants the You Tube generation to show some respect for old-school slasher films.
    In the reboot of the Scream franchise, the curmudgeon director sets out to prove that fusing old-school scares and new-school pop culture smarts are his forte. Craven’s got a point. When he focuses on the gore and the fun, he makes a smart, scary flick.
    Ten years after the last bloodbath surrounding perennial victim Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell: Closing the Ring), she returns to where the killing began: her hometown of Woodsboro. Now a self-help author, Sidney comes back to start her book tour and reconnect with distant cousin Jill (Emma Roberts: It’s Kind of a Funny Story). Sid also reunites with old friends and fellow survivors Gale (Courtney Cox: Cougar Town) and Dewy (David Arquette: The Land of the Astronauts).
    With the old guard reunited, Ghostface — the masked fiend from the first three films — resurfaces, and the bloodbath begins. This time, the killings are more self-conscious, referencing previous films’ gore and drawing instant web attention.
    As the slaughter continues, this time with web streaming, Sidney and a new pack of pop-culture savant teens must try to catch Ghostface.
    This time, the killings aren’t personal.
    Craven doesn’t have the time or inclination to bother developing the new generation of teens as characters. Every nubile young victim is simply cannon fodder. This under-development is especially noticeable when the new guard interacts with the three slasher veterans.
    Lack of depth in characters isn’t necessarily a bad thing in a horror movie, where the proper combination of creepy settings, frenetic chases and gushing arteries makes up for thoughtful depictions of teens. Craven is still a master of his craft, and he makes tense, gory sequences look effortless as he packs them in.
    Still, when the teen characters open their mouths, Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson (The Vampire Diaries) show their age.
    In long-winded speeches, teens drone on about the Internet age, the laziness of their generation and their own self-referential brilliance. These days, you don’t need to work to become a celebrity, says one. Have you ever met a teen who pontificates using the phrase these days?
    These grumpy old men lose the tension of their film each time they try to lecture the audience on this kooky new generation. It’s not that they can’t make the statement on this disconnected techno-age, but they need to sound less cranky when they do it.
    What are you gonna do with kids these days?
    Kill ’em, I guess. It works in Scream 4.

Good Horror • R • 111 mins.