Scream 4

Dimension Films

Rated R for profanity, underage drinking and graphic violence.

Slasher Franchise Revived with High Body-Count Shriekquel

It’s been a decade since the homicidal maniac known as Ghostface (voiced by Roger L. Jackson) last embarked on a harrowing reign of terror around the City of Woodsboro. Over the uneventful interim, calm has returned to the tightknit community where the only visible reminder of what once transpired are the replicas of the sadistic slasher’s mask (ostensibly-inspired by Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”), which some perverted pranksters nailed to telephone posts as a macabre tribute to the tragedy.

Such insensitive attempts at gallows humor notwithstanding, proud survivor Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) feels that it’s finally safe to return to her hometown for the first time in years. So, despite having been Ghostface’s primary target, she schedules a visit as the last leg of a promotional tour for her recently published memoir about the sensational killing sprees.

Unfortunately, right after her arrival, Sheriff Dewey Riley (David Arquette) interrupts the book signing to announce that the disemboweled remains of a couple of teenagers (Brittany Robertson and Aimee Teegarden) have just been discovered, and that it looks like it might be the work of a reincarnated Ghostface. Then, when he subsequently finds a bloodstained hunting knife in the trunk of Sidney’s rental car, he orders her to stick around Woodsboro until her name is cleared.

This double-murder jumpstarts the fresh round of senseless slaughter serving as the raison d’etre for Scream 4. Directed by Wes Craven and written by Kevin Williamson, the high body-count shriekquel is designed for devotees of the franchise who appreciate its effective combination of spine-tingling suspense with clever, self-reverential parody of the scary movie genre.

The casting for this installment also reflects that creative team’s continued commitment to top-flight talent, between returnees David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and Heather Graham, and series newcomers Anna Paquin. Emma Roberts, Kristen Bell, Anthony Anderson, Hayden Panettiere and Rory Culkin. Having seasoned professionals in minor roles, even ill fated cameos, adds immeasurably to the overall quality of the production.

As for the unremarkable plotline, Scream 4 revives the fairly formulaic “crazed madman with a penchant for stalking attractive teens home alone or in wooded areas” theme. Nonetheless, it is tautly enough edited to keep you on edge and guessing the villain’s identity for the duration. Plus, the picture features plenty of welcome comic relief via “Stab 7,” a film within the film which periodically enables characters to poke fun at horror flick conventions and clichés.

A worthy sequel certain to scare the bejesus out of Scream franchise fans with a strong stomach for gratuitous gore.

Excellent (4 stars).

Running time: 111 minutes.

Fear Of A Black Republican

Shamrock Stine Productions

Unrated

DVD Asks: Does the GOP Even Want the Black Vote?

Have you ever noticed how few African-American Republicans there are? At any Grand Old Party gathering you see on TV, there are generally so few blacks in attendance that they tend to stand out like a sore thumb.

That sorry state of affairs inspired Tavis Smiley to remark, “You can fit all the black Republicans with any clout into a phone booth.” And they’re probably also about as hard to find as a phone booth is nowadays.

This phenomenon was not lost on Kevin Williams, a white Republican from Trenton, New Jersey, who felt frustrated by the fact that the Democrats had a stranglehold on all the political positions in his predominantly African-American hometown. So, as a filmmaker, he decided to shoot a documentary getting to the bottom of why blacks aren’t represented in the Republican Party.

Is it that the GOP would prefer to remain lily-white or are African-Americans simply short-changing themselves by remaining so loyal to the Democratic Party? That fundamental question rests at the heart of Fear Of A Black Republican, an eye opening expose’ supplying a variety of intriguing answers.

In order to unravel the mystery, Williams approached some of the black Republicans crammed into the aforementioned phone booth, from recently deposed RNC Chairman Michael Steele to former U.S. Senator from Massachusetts Ed Brooke who warns of “corruption where there’s no two-party system.” Yes, there’s that danger in districts where a Democratic nomination assures a candidate of victory. Still, there’s probably truth to Tavis’ suggestion that once the Republican Party figured out that it could win national and statewide elections without blacks “then the needs of that constituency never rose to the top of its agenda.”

Among the other pundits weighing-in here are Princeton Professor Dr. Cornel West, right-wing journalists Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter, and possible Presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee. Yet, the most meaningful interviews are with rank and file black Republicans, average folks who make heartfelt pitches for their fellow African-Americans to abandon the Democrat Party, which they indict for taking the black vote for granted.

Whether it’s up to white Republicans or jaded black Democrats looking for an alternative to make the first overture, Fear Of A Black Republican might serve as a great conversation breaker to encourage both camps to bury the hatchet and to give each other serious consideration as a viable political partner. However, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for the GOP to reflect the all-inclusive rainbow the Party envisioned during more enlightened times when Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves and a plethora of black Republican candidates ran successful campaign for political office.

Excellent (4 stars).

Running time: 111 Minutes.

OPENING THIS WEEK

Kam’s Kapsules:

Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun

For movies opening April 22, 2011

African Cats (G). Disney nature documentary, narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, chronicling events in the lives of a trio of felines running free on the savannah: a little lion cub learning to imitate its mother, a momma cheetah patiently teaching her five mischievous newborns how to survive, and a fearless lion protecting his pride from a rival.

Madea’s Big Happy Family (PG-13 for profanity, mature themes and drug use). Tyler Perry’s back in drag for the 6th time as the trash-talking, pistol-packing granny. This installment of the morality play franchise revolves around a niece (Loretta Devine) in failing health who has just received a distressing diagnosis. Ensemble includes Bow Wow, David and Tamela Mann, Cassi Davis, Lauren London, Cheryl “Pepsi’ Riley and popular Old Spice pitchman Isaiah Mustafa.

Water For Elephants (Unrated). Robert Pattinson stars in the screen adaptation of Sara Gruen’s Depression-era novel of the same name about a vet student who drops out of school to join the circus after his parents perish in a car accident. With Reese Witherspoon and, Christoph Waltz and Hal Holbrook.

The Bang Bang Club (Unrated) South African saga recounting the daring exploits of a quartet of intrepid combat photographers (Taylor Kitsch, Ryan Phillippe, Frank Rautenbach, Neels Van Jaarsveld) determined to document the fall of the country’s Apartheid regime. With Malin Akerman, Patrick Lyster and Russel Savadier.

Cougar Hunting (R for nudity, profanity, drug use, crude humor and pervasive sexuality). Buddy comedy revolving around three losers at love (Robin Blazak, Matt Prokop and Randy Wayne) who try to improve their odds by dating desperate, older women at an Aspen resort. With Vanessa Angel, Jillian Murray and Lara Flynn Boyle.

Dumbstruck (PG for suggestive humor). Dummy documentary featuring the highlights of the annual ventriloquists’ convention staged in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky. With appearances by Bob Ashman, Willie Brown and Jennifer Burdette.

Exodus Fall (Unrated). Dysfunctional family drama set in Texas in 1974, about three teenage siblings (Jesse James, Adrien Finkel and Devon Graye) grieving the death of their father (Christopher Atkins) who decide to run away from home when their abusive mom (Rosanna Arquette) mistreats her autistic son. With Dee Wallace, Leo Rossi and Duane Whitaker.

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (PG-13 for profanity and sexuality). Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) wrote, produced, directed and stars in this documentary exposing the widespread corporate financing of movies via prominent product placements and other forms of advertising.

Incendies (R for profanity and graphic violence). Oscar-nominated return to roots drama about a twin brother (Maxim Gaudette) ands sister (Melissa Desormeaux-Poulin) born in the Middle East who travel from Canada back to their homeland to fulfill their late mother’s (Lubna Azabal) last request that they find the presumed-dead father they’ve never met and the sibling they never even knew existed. With Remy Girard, Allen Altman and Mohamed Majd. (In French, Arabic and English with subtitles.)

Legend Of The Fist: The Return Of Chen Zhen (Unrated). Martial arts adventure, set in Japanese-occupied Shanghai in the ‘20s, and revolving around a mysterious stranger (Donnie Yen) who infiltrates a gang of mobsters in order to assassinate everyone collaborating with the enemy. With Shu Qi, Anthony Wong, Huang Bo and Kohata Ryu. (In Mandarin, Japanese and English with subtitles.)

Stake Land (Unrated). High body-count horror flick about a vampire hunter (Nick Damici) accompanied by an orphaned teen (Connor Paolo) on a perilous trek across a post-apocalyptic America in search of a monster-free sanctuary. Cast includes Danielle Harris and Kelly McGillis.

St. Nick (Unrated). Survival drama about sibling runaways (Tucker and Savanna Sears) who take refuge in an abandoned house in the woods to escape from the elements during harsh Texas winter. With Riley Cole, Monique Byars and Brooke Devenney.

Tied To A Chair (Unrated). Screwball comedy about a miserable housewife (Bonnie Loren) who leaves her husband (Richard Franklin) of 25 years to resume the acting career she gave up to marry him. The plot thickens at her first audition when she’s left bound to a chair in a hotel room by a kinky cult film director (Mario Van Peebles) who subsequently turns up dead. With Robert Gossett, Kim Cristo and Daniel Farag.

What On Earth (Unrated). Whodunit documentary examining the mystery of crop circles as debated at an annual convention in England by scientists, farmers, philosophers and paranoid conspiracy buffs baffled by the phenomenon.

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