Grae's currently on vacation in an exotic land until the end of April. Subbing for her is fellow MDC writer Alonso Duralde. Follow him on Twitter at @ADuralde.
Who's In It: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Rory Culkin, Mary McDonnell, Marley Shelton, Adam Brody, Anthony Anderson
The Basics: On the anniversary of the infamous Woodsboro Murders that took place in the first Scream, Sidney Prescott (Campbell) returns to town at the end of the book tour for her best-selling, victim-no-more memoir. The local teens are awed by her celebrity, even though they think of the killing spree of yore as something of a joke -- these kids think it's funny to hang fake Ghostfaces from the lampposts and to scare each other by using an iPhone app that gives them that "Do you like scary movies?" voice. But naturally, a new string of copycat homicides starts happening, leading Sidney to fear for herself and for her teenage niece Jill (Roberts), while Deputy Dewey (Arquette) and his writer's-blocked wife Gale (Cox) overcome their sense of déjà vu to take down yet another horror-movie-obsessed psychopath.
What's The Deal: As one of Scream 4's movie nerds observes at one point, "This is less of a shriek-quel and more of a scream-make." Director Wes Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson get back to the roots of this popular franchise by returning to Woodsboro -- and basically never acknowledging that Screams 2 & 3 ever existed -- digging into their bag of slasher-film and ironic meta-commentary tricks. Once again, you have a horror movie about teens who have an encyclopedic knowledge of horror movies, and who talk constantly about "the rules" that dictate who lives and who dies. And if you like the tricks and the jolts and the jokes of the Scream series, you'll have fun at Scream 4, which immediately plunges the audience into a funhouse-mirror of suspense mixed with self-reflexive humor and then doesn't let up. (But hey, I liked Scream 3, so what do I know?)
File Under Whodunnit: The Scream movies are generally thought of as horror-comedies, but one of the things that makes them such fun is the fact that they're also mysteries -- we don't know who's running around in the Ghostface costume and making those threatening phone calls until the final reels, and the films are always smart about throwing lots of red herrings our way. Scream 4 gives us any number of potential suspects, from Jill's horror-literate pal Kirby (Panetierre) to her unfaithful ex Trevor (Nico Tortorella) to the geeky guys at the Cinema Club (Culkin and Erik Knudsen) to Deputy Judy (Shelton), who's clearly got a crush on Dewey. So while the movie makes its jokes about the endless parade of horror remakes and the fact that Campbell's "ingenue days are behind her," it also offers a touch of Agatha Christie.
"This Self-Aware Meta S--t": That's a phrase Gale uses at one point -- although it turns out neither she nor Dewey know what "meta" means -- and it typifies the fact that Scream 4 is commenting on itself and then comments on the fact that it's commenting on itself. This level of reflexivity reaches its apex during the somewhat overextended finale, when one of the characters observes that the story should actually have ended several scenes earlier.
Footnote To Film History: It's worth noting that Anderson is the only actor to have appeared in both Scream 4 and Scary Movie 4. In case they ask about it on the SATs or something.