The age of Ghostfacebook: ‘Scream 4’

ANOTHER STAB AT IT | Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) pursues another series of murders in the clever reboot ‘Scream 4.’

‘Scream 4’ wants to be your favorite scary movie. And it just might succeed

When Scream came out in 1996 — Damn! Really?! — it turned the horror film on its head with post-modern genius: It was the first slasher film to acknowledge the genre of slasher films has rules, and that anyone aware of them could manipulate the outcome. It meant if you were the big-breasted bimbo babysitting alone in a house with lots of windows… well, let’s just say you won’t be around for the shreikquel. And certainly not the screamake.

By the time Scream 3 rolled around in 2000, the plot was folding in on itself: Movies were being made about the events portrayed in the original, and we had a metafilm.

The slasher film has morphed a lot in the last decade, partly due to the Scream series, with the rise of tortureporn (Saw, Hostel) and the docu-horror (Blair Witch, Paranormal Activity).

But society has morphed just as quickly, with reality TV documenting our lives and inventing fauxlebrity culture, victimization becoming a catch-phrase and Facebook, Twitter and smartphone apps changing the way we relate to one another.

So really, Scream 4 was overdue, even necessary.

Screenwriter Kevin Williamson is back, as are director Wes Craven and stars Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette, and the twisty Mobius strip of a movie they’ve conjured up is a worthy addition to — and a worthy evolution of — franchise.

It’s been 10 years since the murders in Woodsboro stopped. Deputy Dewey (Arquette) is sheriff now, and his wife, Gale (Cox) is smothering in small-town domesticity. Sidney (Campbell) has come home to promote her memoir and visit her cousin Jill (Emma Roberts). But Ghostface is back, and targeting Sidney’s family and friends.

Scream’s ability to reinvent itself has always been its greatest asset, along with actual actors doing good work and a wicked sense of humor that both undercuts and heightens the tension.

There are new rules to horror films now — one being the only way to survive is to be gay (only that doesn’t work out so well for the gay guy), and S4 does an admirable job adapting while still making some degree of sense. The body count may get unreasonably high, but Williamson’s snippy lectures about the Facebook generation have actual merit.

Part of the success of the series has always been Ghostface himself, both as a lithe, shockingly grotesque image and as a growling, threatening voice on the phone. It still offers chills, and if not as powerfully as it once did, well, we’ve all gotten older. And savvier. We’re all a little more meta. Maybe my enjoyment was po-mo ironic, maybe retro-GenXer-lame. I can’t tell anymore. But it was nice to revisit Scream and remember a time when “friend” wasn’t a verb and people talked to each other face-to-ghostface and not through meaningless modspeak. OMG! ; ) L8r, beeyotches.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 15, 2011.

—  John Wright

From ‘mama grizzly’ to fantasy cougar?

Sarah Palin: Cougar-licious?

I got an e-mail today from a representative with Cougared.com, “the leading cougar dating website” (I didn’t even know cougar dating websites existed!) telling me that the site has released the results of a recent survey of “cubs” (younger men who date — or want to date — older women). And according to The Cub Report (Seriously, that’s what they called the report on the survey results), “high-powered political hockey mom” Sarah Palin is their “ultimate fantasy cougar woman.”

Palin won out over a “short list” of candidates that included “cougar icons” Demi Moore, Courteney Cox, Madonna, Kim Cattrall and Janice Dickinson — and apparently, even the folks who run the website were astounded, since they wrote in their press release: “The surprise finding was one of several fascinating revelations” to come out of the survey that was “designed to get inside the mind of the modern younger man.”

Here are some of those other “fascinating revelations” (Comments in parentheses are mine, not the website’s or the report’s):

• The perfect age range for a cougar is 41-45 (even if I were straight and tried, I couldn’t be a prime cougar because I am too old).

• 1 in 5 cougar chases have gotten together with a friend’s mother (Eeeeeewwww! That is just wrong!).

• 2/3s say the media and celebrities have an effect; it is “officially less socially awkward” to date an older woman thanks to the media’s coverage of cougars.

• The biggest turn-on for the younger men is maturity (as opposed, I guess to possibly bigger bank accounts?).

• 19 percent have been “cougared” by an older boss or co-worker.

• Only 8 percent said they were looking for a sugar mama. And …

• 80 percent said they wouldn’t necessarily object if their own mothers became cougars.

(Okay, those last two …. let’s just say, I’m not really buying those two.)

—  admin