Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What was truly scary about Scream 4 and the brutal price of fame on film

I finally got around to watching Scream 4 on DVD and have to say that it was better than I had expected.  Putting the franchise back in the hands of Wes Craven and friends was a truly wise move,especially since they were savvy enough to parody the "opening kill" cliche that the Scream series inadvertently created.

While I'm not waiting for a Scream 5,this was a crafty little commentary on the nature of slasher films today and the disturbing desire to use violence as a gory golden ticket to fame.

True,the earlier films touched on this subject but this fourth time out really hit the nail on the head with this concept until it bled out. To make my point a little clearer,I have to drop a huge spoiler about the killer and please forgive me but you have been warned,folks!

Now that we've gotten that out of the way,Sydney Prescott( played yet again by Neve Campbell,the eternal heroine of these films)finds herself wrapped up in another slaughter fest when she makes a stop in her hometown on the book tour for her memoir about surviving the wrath of knife wielding maniacs.

As is tradition in the Scream saga,the Ghostface Killer is a two person team and the one in charge is her teenage cousin Jill(Emma Roberts)who not only is insanely jealous of Sydney's celebrity status but wants her share of the sinister spotlight as well.

Her villain reveal rant about the way people get famous these days by becoming victims is truly chilling,especially if you consider some of the murder trials widely touted in the media recently and how quick everyone involved with them was and is anxious to sell their story:

I'm not suggesting that we blame the media or the movies for this psychotic motive and it's not entirely original but the cynicism on display here seems to be on a whole other level of scary. As strange as this may sound,there is a quaintness about the old school notion of turning killers into celebrated superstars instead of the other way around.

When John Waters made the horror comedy Serial Mom back in the nineties,he was well in sync with the changing times in pointing out how criminal trials were the next big venue for fame seekers and how easily acceptable that was becoming in society.

Of course,the big joke was how Beverly Sutphin, the main villainess of the piece felt the need to kill people for their lack of manners and decorum. There was a sinister sweet innocence about her desire to rid the world of gum chewers,video renters that weren't kind enough to rewind and people who refused to recycle:

A year after Serial Mom was released,Gus Van Sant's adaptation of the Joyce Maynard novel To Die For received much more critical acclaim due to the parallels to the film's plot that could be drawn to the infamous Pamela Smart case.

Again,we see the endearing charms of the leading lady who wouldn't let a little thing like an interfering husband stand in the way of her dream to become a celebrated newscaster. It also helped to be able to seduce the young and dimwitted into being her erstwhile allies.

Being sweet and smiley is a great tool for any bad guy or gal's kit to have but what really made this character almost sympathetic was the lethal amount of self delusion combined with a sad abundance of scratch the surface level knowledge required for her intended dream job that she had:

 Call me old fashioned but I think there's a world of difference between becoming famous for killing and killing to become famous. Neither one is a great life goal to have but it does make one wonder how accurate a mirror to the current mindset this really is. Then again,as a certain great lady once wrote,selfishness must be forgiven for there is no hope of a cure. Guess that applies to celebrity psychos as well,particularly on the big screen:

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