Wednesday, April 13, 2011

SCREAM 4 (2011, Wes Craven, A+)

I think the film is extremely entertaining for me. My most favorite scene is the opening scene. The structure of this opening scene is very interesting.

Wes Craven is still an expert in creating tense situations in an ordinary house. The characters in SCREAM 4 run for their lives in an ordinary house, like in many of his films, including MY SOUL TO TAKE (2010, A+/A). I have seen scenes like this for a hundred times, but I'm still excited by them. I should have been bored by this kind of cliche, but I'm not. I have to thank Wes Craven for it.

However, in the end I think Wes Craven still can't transcend himself or the standard horror/thriller genre. The ending is too neat. Everything is explained. The killer has time to explain everything, including the motivation, before the film ends. I'm a little bit bored by this kind of "ending", but I'm not sure whose fault it is. Is it the fault of Wes Craven, the screenwriter, or the producer? Who "ordered" that this film must end like this?

Watching SCREAM 4 somehow reminds me of many films adapted from Agatha Christie's novels, because these films are also extremely entertaining and extremely exciting, but all the excitement seems to evaporate when we know who the killer is, when we know his/her motivation, when everything is explained.

My problem with SCREAM 4 and Agatha Christie's films may result from the fact that they seem to pay the most attention to the question "Who did it? And why?" And after we know the answers to these questions, there are too few things left on our minds.

As entertaining and exciting as it is, SCREAM 4 lacks one thing I like in many films—the "disturbing" quality.

Agatha Christie's films also lack the disturbing quality, too. This is in contrast to films adapted from novels by Ruth Rendell or Patricia Highsmith. Mary Higgins Clark, Christie, Rendell, Highsmith, and Georges Simenon all wrote about crimes. But most films adapted from the novels of Clark and Christie do not disturb me, because they pay attention to the question "Who did it?" Some films made from the novels of Rendell, Highsmith, and Simenon disturb me, for example, LA CÉRÉMONIE (1995, Claude Chabrol), THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY (1999, Anthony Minghella), JUSQU' À L'ENFER (2009, Denis Malleval), because they don't pay attention to the question "Who did it?", though they are also about crimes. I think Rendell, Highsmith and Simenon can dig deeply into the dark side of human beings, and that makes their films more interesting, more disturbing, more unforgettable.

I think SCREAM 4 suffers from the same problems found in Agatha Christie's films. SCREAM 4 is as good as it can be as a standard horror/thriller film, but as for "films about serial killers", I may prefer such films as BAISE-MOI (2000, Virginie Despentes + Coralie Trinh Thi), FUNNY GAMES (1997, Michael Haneke), HORSEMEN (2009, Jonas Åkerlund), PEEPING TOM (1960, Michael Powell), SOMBRE (1998, Philippe Grandrieux), THE STRANGERS (2008, Bryan Bertino),TENDERNESS (2009, John Polson), THE WITCH (2009, Alwa Ritsila), and WOLF CREEK (2005, Greg Mclean), because they are more disturbing.

THE WITCH (2009, Alwa Ritsila)

The problem about "neat ending" or the ending "when every problem is solved" can be found in some Thai films, too.

I like LADY MINA: VAMPIRE HUNTER (2011, Ninart Boonpothong, stage play, A), THE MICROCHIP (2011, Krissanapong Ratchatha, A+/A), and HAZART (2011, Pornchai Hongrattanaporn, A+/A) very much, because I think they talk about the current political problems of Thailand.

Since the political problems of Thailand are not solved yet, I like it very much that LADY MINA: VAMPIRE HUNTER and THE MICROCHIP do not end by having every problem solved.

Unfortunately, HAZART seems to end by having every problem solved, so I'm not sure if its ending is appropriate or not, if you choose to view this film from a political angle.


celinejulie said...

I think "the ordinary house" is one of the main strengths of Wes Craven now, and it makes me feel very tense, very anxious while watching his films, because I can imagine myself very easily to be in the same situation as the characters.

My scariest scene in the SCREAM film series is in SCREAM 2, when one of the characters was pulled into a van "in broad daylight" and "in a public place" to be murdered. I feel very scared for this scene, because the situation in the scene must be one of the safest situations—to stand in a university park in broad daylight with many people walking by—but it turns out not to be as safe as you think.

While I was watching SCREAM 4, I also imagined what I would do if I were Sidney and got stuck in this town. I don't want to stay in a house, because the killers in SCREAM can easily kill people in a house. I don't want to stay in a hotel, because PSYCHO has proved that hotels are not safe. I don't want to stay in the hospital, because HALLOWEEN II (1981, Rick Rosenthal, A+) has proved that hospitals are not safe. I don't want to stay in the police station, because SAW 3D (2010, Kevin Greutert, B+) has proved that police stations are not safe from serial killers. Hahaha.

celinejulie said...

The opening sequence of SCREAM 2 is really stunning. How could Wes Craven come up with an idea like that! That sequence also reminds me of another horror film I like very much – ANGUISH (1987, Bigas Luna, A+++++), because it is also about horror film within a horror film.

"A film-within-a-film thriller about two teen girls among a small group of people whom are terrorized in a movie theater by a killer while watching a horror film about a murderous optometrist who stalks his victims in a movie theater in the film."

I also want to see MIDNIGHT MATINEE (1989, Richard Martin) very much, because it is also about murders in a movie theatre. This film was shown on Channel 5 in the early 1990's, but I saw only some parts of this film at that time.

"Welcome to Holsten, B.C., a small town where no one is very happy. Two years ago the local movie theatre had a horror film festival, during which a local teen was murdered at the same moment and manner as the onscreen character. Now another horror movie festival is set to happen, and some people feel history will repeat itself. Sure enough, as the line between movies and reality blurs, the horror doesn't stay onscreen."

celinejulie said...

As for now I imagine what SCREAM 5 and SCREAM 6 would be like. I wish that SCREAM 5 and SCREAM 6 are actually one 4-hour-long movie divided in two parts. That means in SCREAM 5 you will see only the murders and the mysteries. But the identity of the killers would not be revealed at the end of SCREAM 5. The audience has to live with all the mysteries in SCREAM 5 for one year before the audience gets to know all the answers in SCREAM 6.