Dear Kevin Williamson,
You and I need to have a talk.
First of all, there was one thing, one tiny thing, that I wanted from Scream Four, and you did not deliver it. You kind of pretended to deliver it, but pretending to do something and actually doing it are not the same things.
I'll let that slide, though. I will let go of that complaint, solid though it may be, to make a couple of larger complaints.
For instance, you know how the original Scream deals a lot with whiny teenagers? And how it's the worst Scream movie because of that? Maybe you should have kept that in mind when you decided to make Scream Four about whiny teenagers. I'm just thinking out loud here, but maybe whiny teenagers don't make good movies.
Not only that, but I see you won't let this whole "The Rules" thing die. I'm sorry Kevin Williamson, but you are ruining slasher movies. I know you think you're being clever, but you're not. You're hurting the genre. You're stabbing it in the face. And having the characters being self-aware about the fact that they're self-aware doesn't help. That actually makes it worse.
It is one thing for me, an audience member, to expect certain things from my horror movies. Not only to expect them but to talk about them with my friends. I've had conversations about the conventions of slasher movies. So, sure, I guess it'd make sense that you'd try to put some of that into your movie. Randy getting up in Scream and drunkenly rambling about "The Rules" of slasher movies is a fine scene, even if his rules are bullshit. (I dare you to name me a movie other than Scream where someone says "I'll be right back" and then gets killed (oh wait, that doesn't even happen in Scream). I can't think of a damn one and I'd love for you to enlighten me.)
The problem is, you brought it back in Scream Two, except this time it wasn't a drunken ramble. It loses its credibility when it's not a drunken ramble. It sounds stupid coming out of a sober guy.
Now that you're back on board for Scream Four you're not only clinging for dear life to your stupid "The Rules" nonsense, but you're clinging to it by acting like you don't care.
"The new rules are that there are no rules; nothing is new anymore and everything has to be turned on its head. Everything that's surprising is conventional. Remakes have to be just like the originals but bigger and beyonder." Yeah, yeah. "There are no rules, and here they are." Shall I tell Scott McCloud you're ripping him off?
It's time to break it off before I murder your stupid "The Rules" in their sleep.
Pointing out what everybody's thinking doesn't make the movie smart or clever. The false starts and "surprise" kills aren't surprising or funny.
And it's not conventional, either. It's that tragic bin at the end of the hall labeled "Trying Too Hard." And I think you live in there now. (Another example: giving a character in the first one the last name Loomis: bordering on clever (points off because John Carpenter did it twenty years before you). Giving a character in Scream Four the name Anthony Perkins: trying too hard.)
Scream Four wasn't predictable, but nothing about it came as a surprise, either. It simply existed. It was slow to get going but the kill scenes were mostly entertaining. I did feel bad for a few people who went under the knife but two or three of the kills were actually rather satisfying. It was just all that dialogue in the middle, spoken by whiny teenagers, that got on my nerves.
As far as movies go, it was fair. Okay, not great. Glad I saw it, won't see it again, will go see the sequel.
(FROM HERE ON IN IT'S SPOILERY.)
However, you killed off all but one of the new characters introduced in this movie. Deputy Hicks survives and we'd never seen her before, but every single other new character is dead. I heard somewhere that Scream Four is supposed to be the first of a brand new Scream trilogy but where could you possibly go from here?
Had you actually killed off Sidney Prescott like you should have, you could have had a new trilogy about her admittedly obnoxious snotbag of a cousin going on a quest to keep killing people in an attempt to solidify her newfound fame. 'Cause I imagine that brat wouldn't deal well with the realization that the attention doesn't last. You could have gotten an interesting couple of movies out of her trying to stay famous without people finding out she's a murderer.
But, no. Sidney lived, Dewey and Gail lived (which I'm okay with; they're the only characters from the first movie I like) and you killed the brat. Which is fine. It was definitely satisfying; she was a pain in the ass.
But now we're left with Sidney Prescott still being alive when, honestly, the one way you could have clung to your precious "The Rules" while acting like you don't care about them and still managed to look like you weren't trying too hard would have been to have the first scene of the movie be the murder of Sidney Prescott. (You did it with Drew Barrymore and Liev Schreiber, it would have made perfect sense to do it to Neve Campbell.)
But you didn't do that and now it's too late.
I'm not saying I could have done a better job than you, but I am saying you should have done a better job than you.
And I hate all that "The Rules" bullshit. I wish you'd never brought it up.
End of line.