Scream 4 marked the end of Wes Craven’s Scream saga on the big screen, and even though it was the lowest-grossing film of the franchise, it definitely isn’t the worst. Scream revitalized the horror genre in 1996 and gave it a twist by addressing the most common clichés of the genre, with the characters acknowledging these as well as real-world horror films. Although it was initially planned as a trilogy, with Scream 3 releasing in 2000, a fourth (and final) film was announced in 2008.
Scream 4 was released in 2011, with Neve Campbell, David Arquette, and Courteney Cox reprising their roles as Sidney Prescott, Dewey Riley, and Gale Weathers, respectively. The film followed the same basic plot of the previous ones with a new killer disguised as Ghostface going after Sidney and company, but the themes and clichés addressed in it were different, something that didn’t appeal to some viewers and critics – but doesn’t mean that it was the worst film in the series.
Scream 3 is really the weakest of the bunch, and even though Scream 4 was considered an improvement, it was still heavily criticized for its lack of scares and its “old-fashioned formula” – but it wouldn’t have been a Scream movie without the slasher/satire style that made the series a success. Scream 4 not only satirized remakes but it also addressed the usage of social media and the obsession with internet fame, which are still happening to this day, with people of all ages looking to gain internet fame at all costs – just like Jill Roberts.
Scream 4 also went back to the series’ roots by having two killers instead of one like its predecessor (although there are theories that say there was a second killer), and referenced the first film by having Jill betray Charlie to become the sole survivor. Even Sidney pointed this out, remembering how Billy stabbed Stu in Scream. This entry might have not had the same success as the previous ones, but its combination of slasher, comedy, and relevant social issues make it the underrated installment of the series, and (along with the first film) one that remains relevant thanks to the aforementioned themes.
The Scream formula will never have the same impact it had in the 1990s, but that doesn’t mean Scream 4 is the weakest film of the series. Aside from providing a proper ending to the main characters, it left audiences with an examination (in their very particular style) of themes and issues in both the film industry and the real world that are still happening, and don’t show signs of disappearing anytime soon.