Over a decade has passed since the blade-wielding Ghostface last wreaked bloody havoc on the big screen. As the second trailer for the latest entry in Wes Craven’s hit slasher franchise, Scream 4, reveals, the raspy-toned murderer has spent his semi-retirement perfecting his old tricks.

Horror maestro Craven is back behind the camera for the new Scream flick, which also features the return of series stars Neve Campbell, David Arquette, and Courteney Cox. Early word of mouth indicates that it’s a magical reunion for the crew – but will everything feel a bit too familiar this time around?

Sidney Prescott (Campbell) returns to Woodsboro in Scream 4, having spent the last ten years or so becoming a successful author of self-help literature. The events of the first Scream now make for openly-mocked legend in Sidney’s hometown, where a whole new generation of teens fancy themselves too hip and cool to fall victim to such old-fashioned killer tactics. But just as soon as Sheriff Dewey (Arquette) tuts loudly about kids these days, another masked murderer pops up unwelcome in town, ready to rack up a big bloody body count.

Like the original trilogy, the fourth Scream pic is peppered with young faces that are familiar (Hayden Panettiere, Emma Roberts, Rory Culkin) but not so much as to qualify them as anything but victim fodder. Add to that the fact that horror genre rules have changed a bit since the dawn of the 21st century and it seems that not even Sidney’s survival is a given.

Check out the second official Scream 4 trailer (via Apple) below:

Being armed with the latest in communication technology and having the power of the Internet at their disposal is still not enough to prevent the characters of Scream 4 from repeating the same mistakes as their predecessors. The basic premise behind this franchise – people being aware of slasher genre conventions and getting killed anyway – remains a clever one, but will it feel a bit too stale and overdone this fourth time around?

Self-reflexive dialogue about who’s marked for death or jokes concerning the survival rate of virgins in slasher pics are old hats for the Scream series in general. While this new Scream 4 trailer has its moments – especially the bit where a terrified Panettiere rattles off over half a dozen remakes of classic horror movies and still doesn’t select the right one – the dialogue and scenarios don’t feel all that inventive. Then again, even though the Scream movies are more intelligent than the average slasher pic, they are still essentially genre films, right?

Scream 4 may feature some cleverly-contrived deaths and that’ll help tide over fans with a lust for onscreen carnage. The third sequel also looks to include the franchise’s staple (spoiler?) opening slaughter of lovely female celebrities – and a climax that offers a whole lot of guts & gore in a short period of time. Moviegoers could just stay at home and re-watch any entry in the original Scream trilogy to get that, so hopefully Craven’s latest will be hip and clever enough to give us all a reason to pay the price of admission instead.

Scream 4 arrives in U.S. theaters on April 15th, 2011.

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