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Film / Scream 4

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New decade. New rules.note 

Scream 4 (stylized as SCRE4M) is a 2011 slasher movie directed by Wes Craven from a screenplay by Kevin Williamson. It is the fourth installment in the Scream franchise, and the first film in the series in 11 years.

Over a decade since last defeating Ghostface, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is now living her ideal life as a successful author. But when a new Ghostface emerges in her old hometown of Woodsboro, just in time for the fifteenth anniversary of the original massacre, it's not just Sidney's life on the line, but a new generation that includes her cousin Jill (Emma Roberts) as well.

Returning from previous entries are Courteney Cox and David Arquette, while new additions to the cast include Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Anthony Anderson, Adam Brody, Rory Culkin, Mary McDonnell, Marley Shelton, Alison Brie, Nico Tortorella, Erik Knudsen, Britt Robertson, and Aimee Teegarden, with Roger L. Jackson once again returning as the voice of Ghostface.

Scream 4 was Wes Craven's final movie released before his death on August 30, 2015. It was intended to start a new sequel trilogy in the franchise, but those plans were put on hold due to smaller-than-expected box office returns and the death of Craven, who'd been involved in preliminary development with Williamson prior to its release. This led to the production of a standalone spinoff series (simply titled Scream but also referred to as Scream: The TV Series) for MTV, which ran for two seasons before being rebooted as a new limited series, Scream: Resurrection, for VH1. A fifth film, also simply titled Scream, would finally be filmed in 2021 and released in 2022, with Shelton reprising her role as Judy Hicks. A sixth film, titled Scream VI, would be shot in 2022 and released in 2023, with Panettiere reprising her role as Kirby Reed.

This film provides examples of:

  • 15 Minutes of Fame: Jill's motivation for the killings.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Ghostface's knives have always parted flesh easily, but this film provides an exceptional example of this trope when a police officer is stabbed through the forehead nearly up to the hilt with a simple "hard poke" stabbing motionnote . At some lucky angles, the human skull can deflect bullets.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • Gale and Rebecca's conversation has Rebecca bring up how surprised she is that Gale and Dewey's marriage worked as well in real life as it did in the Stab movies. The actors who play Gale and Dewey, Courteney Cox and David Arquette, were married at the time. Also becomes Harsher in Hindsight when one remembers that the two of them separated not long after filming on Scream 4 was wrapped, and that the main thrust of Dewey and Gale's story is that their marriage is falling apart.
    • The cop Hoss says "it sucks to be a cop in movies, unless you're Bruce Willis". His actor, Adam Brody, starred alongside Willis in Cop Out—playing a cop again.
    • Kirby makes a joke about having "powers", clearly a nod to her actress Hayden Panettiere's role in Heroes.
    • While chatting with Gale, Rebecca lets out an "Aww" while discussing her marriage with Dewey.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Being a manipulated pawn in Jill's scheme, it's easy to feel a little sorry for Charlie when she betrays him and stabs him to death.
  • Ambiguously Absent Parent: Kate Roberts is a single mother to Jill, and there is not so much as a mention of a father figure being around.
  • Anyone Can Die: The marketing strongly teased the possibility of series regulars getting killed off. They don't, though all of them come close.
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • Jill Roberts, perhaps more so than any of the previous Ghostfaces.
    • Chloe as well, considering that she brutally stabbed Rachel over talking too much during Stab 6.
  • Bad Influencer: The killers aspire to be this, staging and filming the Ghostface murders as part of a plot to achieve online Fame Through Infamy by posing as the Sole Survivors who stopped the killing spree. The Motive Rant sees them telling the Final Girl "I don't need friends, I need fans."
    Ghostface: See, with you, the world just heard about what happened, but with us, they're gonna see it. It's gonna be a worldwide sensation. I mean, people gotta see this shit. It's not like anyone reads anymore. We're gonna know fame like you never even dreamed of.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Jill and Charlie are the joint killers that don the Ghostface identity here, the latter for his love towards Jill, and the former to make herself a "sole-surviving hero", getting the fame that comes with the title. Jill soon proves that she's the dominant one, disposing of Charlie to fulfill her own plan.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Jill and Charlie's plans are foiled and they're both killed. However, all the new characters, save for Judy and Kirby — though we won't know Kirby made it until years later, are unambiguously dead. Sidney, Dewey, and Gale come out injured but still kicking, having survived yet another Ghostface killing spree. The media are convinced that Jill is a hero, and one wonders how Sidney is going to take having to tell the world that her own family member was playing them all like fiddles, and was committing the murders herself. It’s also implied that Sidney, Dewey, and Gale can expect a copycat killer to come along again and again every few years until they die and possibly even after. The extended ending gives things a more upbeat note with all three ready to move on and put it all behind them, though.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Kirby (blonde), Jill (brunette), and Olivia (redhead).
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Some parts of the movie are far more gruesome than the original trilogy. Olivia gets a brutal and drawn-out death, and her room is a bloody mess when Sidney finds it. Perkins gets stabbed in the head and walks around slowly dying. Kate gets a rather gruesome death too, as she is stabbed in the throat through her letterbox.
  • Bond One-Liner: Given by Sidney to one of the killers.
    Sidney: You forgot the first rule of remakes, Jill: don't fuck with the original.
  • Book Ends:
    • Because Scream 4 is the final Scream movie directed by Wes Craven, the following bookends are unintentional although appropriate.
      • Wes Craven's Scream series begins and ends with a killing spree in Woodsboro. The fifth Scream movie, made by a new group of creators, is yet another killing spree in Woodsboro, establishing a new era for the Scream series.
      • Scream begins with a blonde girl answering horror movie questions to save her love interest. Fittingly enough, Scream 4 has a blonde girl answering horror movie questions to save her love interest in the climax of the film. However, in this film, the blonde survives although this isn’t confirmed until the following film).
    • As for Scream 4 itself, the movie starts with two false openings and finishes with two false endings.
  • Boyish Short Hair: Kirby has very short hair, used to show her as a Ladette.
  • Bus Crash: Neil Prescott is said to have died in between this and the third film by producers.
  • The Can Kicked Him: Variation. Dewey gets clocked in the head with a bedpan.
  • Call-Back: There are plenty of meaningful references to the previous films in the series.
    • Scream (1996):
      • In the opening murder, Ghostface weaponizes the garage door against Jenny as a nod to Tatum's death.
      • Charlie is tied up, and Kirby is forced to answer horror trivia to save his life, which Casey did for Steve. The framing and use of outdoor lights for the scene even echoes that original scene quite effectively.
      • Trevor climbs into Jill's bedroom window as Billy did for Sidney. Sidney acknowledges this somewhat.
      • When Jill and Charlie reveal that Trevor is their Fall Guy, he's found in a closet, tied up the same way Sidney's father was and wearing a similar outfit: jeans, T-shirt, denim jacket. Charlie lampshades this by asking Sidney, "Remind you of anything?"
    • Scream 2:
      • Jill is given a forearm wound when escaping the killer which mirrors Derek's.
      • Jill and Charlie reveal that they have been recording their kills like Mrs. Loomis and Mickey.
      • Trevor, the suspicious boyfriend, is an actual Red Herring.
      • Like Mrs. Loomis, Jill kills off her partner.
      • The line "Jill, how does it feel to be a hero?" is a slight adjustment of Joel's line "Sidney, how does it feel to be a hero?"
    • Scream 3:
      • The dialogue about the killer voice app in Stab 6 and Jill and Charlie's successful use of the app is a reference to the much-maligned use of a voice-changing app.
      • Like Roman, the new Ghostface is a relative of Sidney.
      • After Judy gets shot, she escapes unscathed because of her Bulletproof Vest.
      • An extended ending shows Judy has her arm in a sling, much like Mark Kincaid (Patrick Dempsey) did.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Jill freely admits to being an evil person, as "sick is the new sane".
  • Cash-Cow Franchise: invoked While Stab was entering this with the third installment (the first not based on real life murders), the fact that it got to 7 installments—one of which has time travel—shows it went down the "grab a quick buck" path rather easily.
  • Casting Gag:
    • Erik Knudsen not only was in the second chapter of the Saw saga (the fourth chapter of which is mocked in the the Stab openings), but also starred in the TV show Jericho (2006), the lead of which was none other than Skeet Ulrich, who played Billy Loomis in the first Scream. Even more surprising or by sheer coincidence, his character in Scream 4 is named Robbie Mercer, which sounds a lot like the name of the character (Bobby Mercer) in Four Brothers who was played by Mark Wahlberg, the brother of Donnie Wahlberg, who played Knudsen's father in the second Saw film.
    • Deputy Perkins is played by Anthony Anderson, who starred in several of the Scary Movie films, which parody the Scream franchise.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Apparently Sidney and Detective Kincaid broke up, but this isn't mentioned. It's possible Patrick Dempsey didn't return due to his commitment to Transformers: Dark of the Moon in real life. Subverted with the fifth one, as it's revealed she and Kincaid ended up getting married and having two kids.
  • Continuity Reboot: Parodied. The film satirizes reboots and remakes (much like the original films satirized slashers, sequels, and trilogies), complete with a cast of characters meant to be new versions of the original cast.
  • Dead Star Walking: In-universe examples (maybe). The Film Within a Film Stab 6 has Lucy Hale (at the time best known from Pretty Little Liars) getting offed, which is then followed by Stab 7 showing Anna Paquin (from True Blood) suffering the same fate. And then in the "real" scene, one of the two victims is played by Aimee Teegarden (from Friday Night Lights).
  • Detachable Doorknob: Rebecca Walters accidentally broke off the hospital doorknob while trying to escape. Possibly justified due to the fact the door was locked and Rebecca was in an adrenaline rush, scared for her life.
  • Diabolus ex Nihilo: The motivation of Jill Roberts has nothing to do with her aunt Maureen or avenging previous killers, which was really all dealt with by the end of Scream 3. This killer's motivation? A lot more simple and selfish (see 15 Minutes of Fame above).
  • Distaff Counterpart: Kirby, for Randy from the original.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The ending has Jill, the new version of Sidney in this copycat of the first film's murders (i.e. a remake of Scream), trying to kill and replace Sidney and claim her fame for herself. In other words, it's the remake defiling the original film and displacing it in the public eye. And Sidney is not happy.
    Sidney: You forgot the first rule of remakes, Jill: don't fuck with the original.
  • Drinking Game: At the Stabathon, one of these is occurring.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Kirby's first moment on screen is breaking the speed limit in front of Dewey. He sighs "Kirby", implying this is a frequent occurrence.
  • Driver Faces Passenger: Kirby does this a lot while she's driving Jill and Olivia near the start of the film, resulting in her unwittingly running a stop sign and almost getting hit by a van.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Jill, especially in the scene where she's self-harming to make herself look like a victim of the killer.
  • Evil Plan: The events of the film were all planned out by Jill, who wanted to kill Sidney, frame Trevor, betray Charlie, and come out the Final Girl so that she could have the same fame and hero worship that Sidney got for surviving her first three ordeals. The Moral Event Horizon is crossed when she decides that, in order to be more convincing and sympathetic, she has to kill off her own mother, in addition to Sidney.
  • Exact Words: Ghostface tells Kirby over the phone he's "in the closet". After a tense build-up, Kirby opens the closet to find it empty. She calls him out for lying, and he responds he never said it was her closet. Cue him leaping out of Olivia's closet next door and stabbing her to death while Kirby and Jill can only watch in horror.
  • Final Girl:
    • Subverted and invoked. Charlie and Jill are the last of the new characters left standing, but are also the killers, and their plan was to gain fame by making themselves the survivors of a killing spree in the wake of the Woodsboro massacre's anniversary. It is further invoked when Jill kills Charlie and stabs Sidney in an attempt to be the lone survivor; however, it then becomes a double subversion when Sidney survives the attack and kills Jill in the hospital.
    • As Charlie and Jill are the killers, Kirby can be considered a straight/subverted example of this, as she is the last of the innocent new characters to be targeted by Ghostface, but her fate is left ambiguous until the fifth film, which reveals that she did survive after all. It also helps that she is both virginal and smart, traits of a traditional final girl.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing:
    • When Olivia arrives home, Kirby calls her, inviting her to Jill's house. Olivia turns it down after hearing Sidney is staying at Jill's house because Sidney is the "Angel of Death". A little later, Kirby tells Jill that Olivia fears the reaper. Olivia soon becomes Ghostface's next victim.
    • Sidney tells Jill to hide under the bed and wait for Sidney to get her, but when Sidney comes back for Jill, she's missing. There's a reason for that.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The movie begins with two false openings and thus ends with two false endings.
    • As a name, Jill is very similar to Billy, give or take a few letters. As a character, Jill is the remake version of Billy, give or take a few differences.
    • Early on, Jill warns Kirby not to talk about Sidney in front of her mother since Sidney's fame is her mother's Berserk Button. Later, after Jill unmasks herself as the killer, Jill reveals that she has a similar Berserk Button as she complains how her familial relation to Sidney means that she will always be overshadowed by her more famous cousin.
    • Jill puts the speaker on when Ghostface calls her in the car. Since she's the other killer, it wouldn't make a lot of sense if she continued the call on her own but letting Kirby and Olivia hear it to "confirm" her innocence does.
    • A lot of Ghostface's conversations with Sidney fall into this. In the first call, he taunts Sidney by asking her if she still thinks she's the star of Ghostface's new "movie". In the second call, he tells her how important family is.
    • Charlie calls Sidney "the star", the same words Ghostface uses to taunt Sidney.
    • Charlie hosts a party while there is a killer on the loose to parallel Stu's party in the first Woodsboro killing spree.
    • At the afterparty, Charlie tests Kirby's horror movie knowledge as preparation for a second, more deadly horror movie quiz.
    • When Trevor meets everyone else at Kirby's house, his clothing is similar to that of Neil Prescott when Neil is revealed as the scapegoat in the original film.
    • Between the Stabathon and the afterparty, Jill messages Kirby that her mother is driving her crazy in order for Kirby to pick her up and bring her to her house for the next wave of deaths. Thing is, Kate doesn't get back from the store until after Jill leaves, subtly indicating that Jill is lying about her reasons for wanting to rejoin the others.
    • In the classroom, when the students get the text message informing them of Jenny and Marnie's death, Jill doesn't reach for her phone. Because she already knows what happened.
    • Ghostface talks about Peeping Tom and how said movie told its story through the killer's point of view. This is because Peeping Tom featured a Villain Protagonist as its most important character.
  • Gay Guy Dies First: Subverted in this film, which discusses the new "Horror Movie Rules" in regards to which characters will die first. Robbie, who was initially implied to be gay, suggests that because of positive discrimination in more recent films, gay characters are actually far more likely than straight characters to survive to the end. He tries to invoke this when confronted by Ghostface by abruptly claiming he's gay when at the killer's mercy. After Ghostface gives a wordless reaction that practically says, "Are you for real, dude?", Robbie adds, "If it helps", and he gets killed after this.
  • Geeky Turn-On: Charlie and Kirby over the latter's impressive collection of horror movies.
  • Girls Are Really Scared of Horror Movies: Subverted. Kirby has a big DVD collection of horror movies.
  • Give Geeks a Chance: Charlie and Robbie, who are both nerds, believe that the attractive Kirby is into him. They're right, and Kirby flirts with Charlie, leading to an Almost Kiss. Discussed when Kirby and Charlie watch a movie together, and Robbie announces on his stream that nerd history is about to be made. Kirby and Charlie never actually become a thing, though, partly because Trevor interrupted them and partly because Charlie is a deranged serial killer who's now dating the also-murderous Jill and is angry at Kirby for not making a move sooner.
  • Groin Attack: Jill to Trevor. With a gunshot.
  • Hate Sink: Ghostface being an utterly despicable human being is nothing new, but Jill might just be the worst one yet. She's a murderous Attention Whore longing for her 15 Minutes of Fame, and freely admits that she's an evil person. She personally murders her own mother, arranges the murders of her best friends, betrays and kills her accomplice (after seducing and manipulating him into helping her), tortures and murders her boyfriend who she then frames, and tries to kill her cousin Sidney, all in the name of being a Final Girl.
  • Happy Ending Override: The last film 11 years prior ended with Sidney not engaging the many security measures she has in her home, since with Roman dead she doesn’t have to worry about a Ghostface coming after her again. This film not only makes it clear that there are copycat Ghostface killers, but it also heavily implies that Sidney will have to be ready for copycats coming for her the rest of her life, and that her hometown will also be subject to this long after she dies.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: The big twist is that Jill is the real killer as she wants to be famous just like Sidney is as the sole survivor of a murder spree. Ironically, the film's end indicates she does get her wish, as she becomes a certain kind of famous once the truth of her spree comes out.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Dewey realizes that the supposed Final Girl, Jill, is the real killer because she mentions that she and Gale have "matching wounds". The details of the killer's assault on Gale had not been revealed to the public, so Jill would have no way of knowing unless she was the one who attacked Gale. While there is the possibility that the details of the crime got leaked and she heard about them, any news report must've aired, presumably, after Kirby got Jill from the house (since Kirby left before the attack), so the chances for that were minimal. Robbie and Charlie were too freaked out from the attack, given that they believed their lives would go to shit thanks to the attack happening at an event THEY were throwing. They were right.
  • If It Bleeds, It Leads: Rebecca Walters is a publicist rather than journalist, but is ecstatic when she hears about Jenny and Marnie's murders. She's heard excitedly telling someone it'll drive up Sidney's book sales.
  • Impaled Palm: Ghostface stabs Olivia through the hand when he attacks her.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Perkins is stabbed in the forehead. And still lives long enough for some Black Comedy last words.
  • Ironic Last Words: Of the dramatic variety. Kate's last words as she is killed by Ghostface are "Tell Jill I'm so sorry." What she doesn't know is that Jill is Ghostface and is the one who killed her.
  • Kill and Replace: Jill's plot is to kill Sidney and take her fame as the Final Girl. On a meta-textual level, her plan can also be seen as metaphor for remakes trying to usurp their original films in the public consciousness.
  • The Lad-ette: Kirby, a brash, snarky, tomboyish horror buff who makes the first move on a timid boy she's into.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: With the fifth film's reveal that Kirby survived and, like Sidney, became famous as a survivor of a massacre, this happens to Jill retroactively. Once again, somebody else wound up getting the fame she so desperately sought.
  • Lingerie Scene: Olivia is given a Fanservicey shot in just her bra as she's changing into pajamas.
  • Long List: When asked to name a horror remake by Ghostface, Kirby rattles off a list of (almost) every single major studio remake of a horror classic in the ten years prior to the film's release, demonstrating both her deep knowledge of horror films and just how widespread the remake craze the film is parodying really was at the time. Ghostface doesn't respond, suggesting either that one of Kirby's answers was correct or they became disinterested with the game halfway through.
    Ghostface: Name the remake of the groundbreaking horror movie in which the villain—
  • Made of Iron: Holy crap, Jill. The girl scratches herself, pulls out her hair, stabs herself in the shoulder, runs her face into a glass picture frame, and then falls onto a glass coffee table. At the hospital she's still able to start up another rampage, nearly killing Sidney and Dewey. A defibrillator to the head only momentarily slows her down. It isn't until she shot directly in the heart that she stops. She's probably the toughest killer yet.
  • Matricide: The new Ghostface willingly kills her own mother to replicate the missing-mother motif that Sidney Prescott had to live with.
  • Moment Killer: Oh, Trevor, why did you interrupt the geek getting the girl?
  • During the climax, it is revealed that the killers were streaming their murder spree over the internet through hidden cameras in the hopes of getting famous. Jill specifically had seen how her cousin Sidney won 15 Minutes of Fame after surviving multiple killing sprees in the three prior films, and wanted a piece of the action for herself. Her Motive Rant even has her discussing building an online fanbase by posing as the heroic Final Girl.
  • Mythology Gag:
  • Near-Villain Victory: Jill nearly gets away with her plan, except a) Sidney survives her attack, and b) she mentions how she and Gale have matching wounds, despite the fact that she should have no way of knowing that. In a way, she still wins... even though she dies, she achieves the fame she always wanted. The final shot in the movie is her corpse, with the faint sign of a smile on her lips as the news reporters describe her in glowing terms. This is before the truth that Jill was the one engineering the whole show will be revealed. She'll be famous alright, just not in the way she envisioned.
  • Never the Obvious Suspect: Played with. Because of the movie's remake theme, viewers would probably expect Trevor, the Billy Expy, to subvert his Red Herring role just as Billy did in the original Scream. However, one of the new rules of horror remakes is that "the unexpected is the new Cliché" since the audiences are familiar with the rules of the originals. Thus, Trevor ends up becoming one of the victims, while the Randy and Sidney expies, who would be victims in the original film, end up as the killers. In addition, the other obvious suspect, Judy, turns out to be one of the heroes.
  • No Kill like Overkill: Rebecca is stabbed and then thrown off the hospital roof.
  • Not Quite Dead:
    • A rare heroic example. Sidney, who was presumed to have been killed, managed to survive after all.
    • A invoked fan theory that was confirmed in the fifth film also claims that Kirby survived and was just hiding, since the viewer never actually sees her dead body.
    • And as usual, the killer. Sidney, fully expecting it, calmly turns around and shoots her in the heart.
  • Offhand Backhand: Sidney pulls one by casually turning and shooting an attacking Not Quite Dead Jill with a handgun.
  • Offing the Annoyance: Kristen Bell's character from Stab 7, who kills her friend for "talking too much".
  • Older Hero vs. Younger Villain: What the climax ultimately comes down to. Sidney is well into her late 30s at this point, while Jill is likely at least 16-17. Granted, Sidney is more then experienced at dealing with Ghostface killers, and gives Jill and Charlie a hard time when they're masked. The only reason Jill nearly wins is because she manages to land a mortal blow on Sidney during the events at the house, who is too weakened to fight back when Jill comes to finish the job at the hospital when she finds that Sidney is still alive. It's only due to Jill's arrogance and Gale managing to stall her long enough that she loses in the end when Sidney zaps her with the defibrillator pads, finishing Jill with a gunshot for good measure.
  • Oh, Crap!: Gale and Dewey upon realizing that Jill is the killer.
    • Before that, while she tries to hide it, it's clear Jill is thinking this when Dewey tells her Sidney may still survive.
  • Outlaw Couple: Charlie thought that he and Jill were this. Unfortunately for him, Jill was looking to play the Final Girl instead. Emphasis on Final.
  • Pet the Dog: Given Kirby is revealed to be alive in Scream 5, it means that Charlie may have likely not tried hard enough to kill her so that she'd live.
  • Posthumous Villain Victory: Played karmically. Jill's motive for going on a killing spree as Ghostface is to make the public believe she's the Final Girl and become a media darling. She succeeds, only to be killed by Sidney shortly after. The final scene shows reporters speaking of her in glowing terms; she got what she wanted, but she isn't around to enjoy it, and her fame will presumably die when the truth gets out.
  • Plot Armor: Discussed in regards to Sidney. She still has it.
  • Police Are Useless: Hoss and Perkins are nowhere to be found while Olivia gets stabbed to death. Really, any cop in this series not named Dewey is hopeless. They even note that police in horror films tend to be worthless, and die. They're right on both counts.
  • Polish the Turd: Parodied in the cast/crew section on the film's website, where all of the actors' bios are heavily glowing, praising their careers. When you read the one for David Arquette, however, you realize that the whole thing's a joke.
    David Arquette is an actor, writer, director and producer whose unique sensibility makes him one of the most versatile talents working in the entertainment industry today, able to segue from comedy to drama with extraordinary ease. This makes David Arquette extremely uncomfortable, because of the fact that he is writing this bio himself and it seems arrogant to boast about his incredible talents in such a way while also referring to himself in the third person.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
    • Charlie is introduced as having a crush on Kirby, which she is aware of. The two wind up alone at Kirby's house towards the end, and out of a mix of being "scared and lonely and drunk," Kirby leans in and tells Charlie that "now would be a really good time to make a move." When she later frees him from being Bound and Gagged, Charlie simply says the following before stabbing her in the stomach, revealing himself to be one of the killers.
      "Kirby, this is making a move."
    • Delivered by both Gale and Sidney before Sidney takes a pair of live defibrillators to both sides of Jill's head, although they only incapacitate her and Sidney killing her later is rather accented by a Bond One-Liner (see above): "Clear."
  • Preserve Your Gays: Zigzagged. When the movie-savvy characters discuss the new "Horror Rules", they note that since filmmakers keep shifting the Sorting Algorithm of Mortality to keep audiences guessing, nowadays the only surefire way to survive a horror movie is by being gay. Later, a character who has only ever demonstrated an attraction to girls (Robbie), when cornered by Ghostface, hurriedly claims that he is in fact gay. Ghostface doesn't buy it, and kills him on the spot. According to Word of God, said character was straight.
  • Proscenium Reveal: Exaggerated. The movie kicks off with Sherrie and Trudie dealing with Trudie's Facebook stalker, which culminates with the new Ghostfaces killing the two girls. The title card then discloses that the previous sequence was just a part of Stab 6, a movie watched by the real protagonists Rachel and Chloe. Both of them comment on the state of the Stab franchise before Chloe reveals that she is Ghostface by stabbing Rachel... only for the next title card to disclose that Rachel and Chloe are fictional characters from Stab 7.
  • Reboot Snark: The film parodies the 2010s trend of remakes, as Sidney returns home to find her cousin and Suspiciously Similar Substitute Jill (played by then-Disney star Emma Roberts) facing down another Ghostface massacre. There's a lot of snark about remakes versus originals, and finally it turns out that Charlie, a Loony Fan of the in-universe Stab movie franchise and Randy's Suspiciously Similar Substitute, plotted the massacre with Jill herself. Jill's plan is to kill Charlie and Sidney, and inherit her fame as the Sole Survivor. However, unlike Sidney (who's a writer), Jill intends to become an influencer, "since nobody actually reads anymore." Dewey, Gale, and Sidney band together against Jill and succeed in killing her, as Sidney remarks that Jill forgot the first rule of remakes: "don't fuck with the original."
  • Red Herring:
    • Due to the remake theme, Trevor is obviously the prime suspect. Similar to Billy, he aggressively pursues his girlfriend even after she makes it clear that he needs to back off, not to mention that Trevor is gifted in stealth just like Ghostface. Furthermore, he is noticeably missing when Ghostface kills Olivia, and only returns onscreen after Ghostface disappears.
    • The movie occasionally hints at the killer being Judy, who is a Fan Girl of the Woodsboro survivors except for Gale. Not only does she have a crush on Dewey, she also has a creepy conversation with Sidney that reveals she was a Woodsboro high-schooler when Billy and Stu committed their killing spree. Due to her crush on Dewey, she often butts heads with Gale, which would give Ghostface a reason to target Gale at the Stabathon party. She also makes a suspicious reappearance after Ghostface kills Hoss, Perkins, and Kate.
    • Robbie, who uses a camera for livestreaming, has the necessary expertise and equipment to be the new Ghostface, since the remake rules state that the new Ghostface would be recording the murders and uploading them to the Internet. At Stabathon, Gale realizes that Ghostface has set up some cameras to livestream the party, which suggests Robbie is responsible, as he is one of the hosts of Stabathon.
    • Ghostface vandalizes Sidney's rental car very early on, which would make Rebecca a potential suspect since she's the one with the car keys. In addition, Rebecca thinks the new Ghostface murders are good for business, a possible motive if she were Ghostface.
    • In her first proper appearance, Kate Roberts holds some resentment against Sidney because of the attention she gets. When Ghostface attacks Olivia, Kate is notably absent even when police and paramedics show up. Ghostface's first phone call to Sidney also lines up with Kate's words, as Ghostface chastises Sidney for thinking the new murder spree is about her and for not caring about the people she left behind in Woodsboro.
    • The remake theme is this. At a first glance, it seems that the new characters are suspiciously similar substitutes to the originals in Scream. While some of the new characters do act as similar substitutions, some of the new characters are not. See the Suspiciously Similar Substitute entry below for more info.
  • Remember the New Guy?:
    • Judy Hicks, the new deputy, was an old classmate of Sidney's back in high school, and says that her and Sidney used to act in plays together, despite not being seen nor mentioned in the very first film (granted, Sidney is only ever seen in one brief class, and the only friends she interacts with are Billy, Tatum, Stu and Randy). Sidney lampshades that she does not remember meeting her at all.
    • Kate and Jill are Sidney's aunt and cousin respectively on Maureen's side of the family. Her having a sister was never mentioned at all, especially in the third film (which delves into her past). With Jill, it's a little more justified, since she would have been two during the events of the first film.
  • Rewatch Bonus:
    • In the beginning of the movie, Kirby jokingly asks Jill to promise not to kill her. And Jill keeps her promise, since Charlie is the one who gets his hands on Kirby instead.
    • Jill tells Kirby that she could do lot worse than to date Charlie. At first, this seems to be Jill venting her feelings about Trevor, but Jill later reveals that Charlie is secretly her boyfriend, so Jill's advice to Kirby came from first-hand experience.
    • At the police station, Judy and Gale get into an argument, forcing Dewey to interrupt his interrogation of Sidney so that he can calm Gale down. On a first viewing, Judy seemingly looks away to give Dewey and Gale some privacy in their talk, but on a rewatch, it's easier to observe that Judy is also trying to get a good look at Sidney.
    • On a second viewing, it's easy to figure out how Ghostface knew that Kirby and Jill were watching Shaun of the Dead despite hiding in Olivia's closet. Jill was the other Ghostface and was able to text Charlie the necessary information to scare Kirby.
    • When rewatching Jill and Sidney's bonding scene, Jill's statement that she wouldn't have been able to handle the fame and attention that Sidney got as a survivor becomes incredibly ironic.
    • After Trevor enters Kirby's house uninvited, Kirby immediately glares at Charlie, who apologizes for forgetting to lock the front door. Upon reexamination however, it becomes clear that this was intentional on Charlie's part since Charlie and Jill needed Trevor to be the Fall Guy.
    • At the afterparty at Kirby's house, most of the gang are drinking alcohol. But Charlie is hitting a Red Bull, both to stay sober and to keep energetic while killing.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Ghostface's final question about horror remakes is never fully divulged since Kirby interrupts him. Furthermore, Kirby gives multiple answers to avoid the mistake Casey made, making it difficult to figure out the movie for which Ghostface was asking. Ghostface also attacks regardless if the victim gets the answer right or not, so it's ambiguous if Kirby had the correct answer in the first place.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Perkins's death—where he walks around for a while after being stabbed in the head—was inspired by a news report Wes Craven watched, where a man was stabbed in the head and took himself to the hospital.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Olivia is introduced as part of the main cast, being best friends with Jill and Kirby, and living across from Jill. She dies very early on to show that the killer means business.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Kirby and, to some degree, Robbie and Charlie. Though in Kirby's case, she actually survived, as revealed in the fifth film. (On the DVD/Blu-ray commentary track, Hayden Panettiere and Wes Craven confirm that Kirby's fate is indeed left unclear, a rarity for a series that likes to make sure we know who's Killed Off for Real. Craven subsequently tweeted that he didn't think Kirby went to the great big cinema in the sky. It would not be until a decade later with the release of the following film that it was revealed what actually happened to Kirby. See also Executive Meddling.)
  • Self-Defense Ruse: Jill reveals that her plan was to claim she had killed Charlie and Trevor in self-defence. Only Charlie was actually Ghostface; he and Jill framed Trevor. All this in spite of the fact that Jill shot Trevor, who was tied up, in the dick before killing him. Played with, though, in that while Jill's plan didn't work, it mostly fell apart because she said too much to Gale, rather than there being anything noticeably wrong with her plan.
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • Jenny and Marnie talk about how Stab 5 had time travel, saying it was a horrible idea. Wes Craven had proposed time travel for one of the Nightmare on Elm Street sequels, but the studio rejected it.
    • The movie pokes fun at horror remakes, but it also reminds the audience that Wes Craven has a few remakes under his belt, too.
  • Sequel Non-Entity: Detective Kincaid (Patrick Dempsey) is the only surviving cast member from Scream 3 not to return or even be mentioned, despite having become chummy with Sid, Dewey and Gale at the end.
  • Sex Signals Death:
    • Apparently, averted. The trailer states that "the rules have changed. Virgins can die now." In the trailer,note  this is then promptly used by Kirby for a Take That! at the girls sitting next to her:
      Kirby: Does that mean I'm not gonna live as long as these two?
    • The answer seems to be "Yes," but it's never definitely stated she gets it, except by Jill, who has a vested interest in her being dead, and who wasn't on the scene when it happened, so it's likely she's only assuming it's the case.
    • If Kirby actually died, it's a weird inversion because she died for not having sex (with the eventual murderer of all people, as a Moment Killer ruined their advances on each other). The fifth film reveals she didn’t die.
    • This is played straight by Trevor, who is mentioned to have had sex with Jill (the killer!). This one is especially ironic, given that Trevor and Jill are Billy and Sidney expies, respectively, and Sidney survived having sex with Billy (also the killer) in the original.
  • Shout-Out: It has its own page.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Subverted like there's no tomorrow. Characters are thrown at us as being replacements for the characters of the original film, but most of the new characters die, the apparent Sidney replacement turns out to be the killer, and we even get a Billy replacement who is almost successfully framed for all the murders.
    • Initially, the movie plays this straight.
      • Jill: Sidney
      • Olivia: Tatum
      • Kirby: Tatum/Randy
      • Trevor: Billy
      • Robbie: Kenny/Randy
      • Charlie: Randy
      • Judy: Dewey
      • Rebecca: Gale
    • Near the end, the movie reveals the true roles.
      • Kirby: Sidney/Casey
      • Olivia: Tatum
      • Jill: Billy
      • Robbie: Kenny/Randy
      • Charlie: Stu
      • Judy: Dewey
      • Rebecca: Gale
      • Trevor: Neil Prescott
      • Kate Roberts: Maureen Prescott
  • Show Within a Show:
  • Slashers Prefer Blondes: invoked Two blondes, Jenny and Marnie, are killed off in the opening. Kirby is seen getting stabbed, but the fifth film reveals that she survived, confirming a longstanding fan theory that was supported by Word of God.
  • Spanner in the Works: Ghostface's entire master plan is so very, very close to working perfectly... and then Jill learns Sidney isn't dead...
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • In the beginning of the film (after all the fake openings), Jennie tells Marnie that after the third Stab movie, Sidney threatened to sue the studio that made the films unless they stopped basing the movies around her and her encounters with Ghostface, so the next five films are fictional stories unrelated to her at all. Also, like any long-running film series, the sequels start to severely decline in quality.
    • As sheriff of Woodsboro, Dewey attempts to keep the lid on Marnie and Jennie's deaths to avoid panic. But when Gale confronts Dewey over the recent murders, she reveals that the details have been already leaked to the internet, not surprising since Woodsboro is a small town with several young citizens connected to social media.
    • After a cell phone, a knife, and a bunch of bloodied copies of Sidney's book are found in her car, Dewey has to prevent Sidney from leaving out of protocol since this makes her a suspect, despite being a close friend of his and the least likely person to be Ghostface.
    • When the killings start, Sidney's publicist, Rebecca Walters, sees this as a great opportunity to milk Sidney's "victim" image and drive up book sales. She tells her idea to Sidney, who is desperately trying to get rid of that image of herself and was just attacked by Ghostface, along with her younger cousin and her cousin's friend Olivia (the last of whom ended up dying). Sidney fires Rebecca on the spot for her Lack of Empathy for the victims or concern for Sidney's safety.
    • Officers Hoss and Perkins keep screwing around when they're supposed to be looking out for the killer, doing things like one of them pretending to be dead while the other is trying to talk to him about a possible break in. This leads to them failing to rescue Olivia from Ghostface and getting killed themselves.
    • When Robbie is attacked by Ghostface, he tries to escape from being killed by saying that he's gay, since horror remake rules say that gay characters can't be killed. Whether he's really gay or not, Ghostface doesn't give a shit and mortally wounds him, because an evil, psychotic killer isn't just going to stop because of some "rules" established by horror movies. Plus, Robbie forgot the rule all good tropers know: rules can be broken.
    • Despite giving the killers serious ass-kickings in the last three movies, Sidney is unable to fight back against Jill when she attempts to strangle Sid in the hospital after being previously stabbed in the gut by her, which is a very serious injury in real life. Worse, Jill uses this to her advantage during their fight, repeatedly jabbing the wound, and Sid's only able to get the drop on Jill thanks to Gale, Judy, and Dewey's intervention, and shocking her in the head with a defibrillator. Then, shooting the bitch in the heart.
  • Those Two Guys: Deputies Anthony Perkins and Ross Hoss fall under this.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Rebecca. After Ghostface appears on the hood of her car that she has locked herself in and reveals he cut the wires, he disappears when she tries to signal a car down. Instead of staying in the car and calling the cops to rescue her, she gets out of the car and runs for the parking garage exit. Take a guess as to how well that turns out.
    • Robbie may count as well, considering that he went walking outside, alone, drunk, when he knew there was a killer on the loose. Though he may have thought he was safe due to the rules stated in the Cinema Club scene. Not really the case, though.
    • Perkins gets himself killed, along with Hoss, by choosing to joke around.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • One trailer makes it look like they're spoiling Gale's death, but she survives yet again. It also makes it appear as if Ghostface is in Jill's closet. Not really the case, AT ALL. It did, however, spoil Robbie's, Hoss', Perkins's, Rebecca's deaths, and Marnie's body crashing through a window.
    • Another trailer shows Ghostface attacking Olivia from her closet. And you can throw in Kate's death having been spoiled as well.
  • Trilogy Creep: Scream 3 was hyped up as the conclusion of a trilogy. This film instead focuses on satirising remakes and reboots. A second trilogy was planned, but the low box office numbers of this film led to it just being a standalone film, as the following installment started a fresh story arc set a decade later.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: invoked
    • Happens in-universe with Stab 6, which features Ghostface taunting victims through Facebook. Anna Paquin's character, after watching it, reacts with disgust, calling it a stupid attempt by some hack writer to prove that it's still relevant, to which Kristen Bell's character replies "I guess now it would be Twitter."
    • invoked The film also has some meta-commentary on this, with regards to how most of the "rules" from the slashers of the '80s (and, by extension, the original Scream trilogy, which riffed on them) are now Discredited Tropes by 2011.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Arguably, Jill goes through this in the end after her plan falls apart and turns to Taking You with Me.
  • Villainous Lineage: The Roberts family. Both Sidney's half-brother Roman and first cousin Jill turn out to be psychopathic murderers.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: A whole slew of characters are introduced in order to invoke new blood taking over and retiring the old guard. This is a common trope in Passing the Torch sequels and in some ways reboots. Just about all of them die while the iconic Scream power trio all live on.
  • Where It All Began: Woodsboro.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Jill mutilates herself in order to make people think she was a victim, and unlike the last time it was tried, it succeeds.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy:
    • Jill gets hit with a minor case of this. She believed the Stabathon was the fake-out ending, making the assault on the house the "real" ending. However, the Stabathon was such an obvious attempt to force a fake-out that it narratively only served as the halfway point of the movie. This means that Jill effectively went into the movie's second act thinking it was the third.
    • Charlie is a more blatant example. While he followed the remake rules correctly by subverting the Plot Twist of the original Woodsboro killing spree, he accidentally recreated the plot twist of the Windsor College murders, which leads to his death. Furthermore, while Charlie scapegoated Trevor as the new Billy Loomis, he forgot that a true remake would need a new Stu Macher as well and went into Act 3 believing that he was the new Randy Meeks.
  • Wrong Insult Offence: When the killer calls Jenny , he says she will die, as "[she's] the Dumb Blonde with the big tits". She responds by saying she's a straight A student with a 135 IQ (she can't really argue with the "big tits" part). She still gets killed despite her intelligence.
  • You Have No Idea Who You're Dealing With: Sidney's Bond One-Liner evokes this, intimating that perhaps the killers should really have taken more time to consider how Sidney earned her fame.
    Sidney: You forgot the first rule of remakes, Jill: don't fuck with the original.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The killer takes out Charlie once he serves his purpose.
  • You Need to Get Laid: Rebecca muses to herself that this is Sidney's real problem.


Video Example(s):


Media Loves a Sole Survivor

After Jill Roberts and Charlie Walker have made themselves known to stage themselves as innocent victims in recreating the Woodsboro murders, Jill and Charlie looked like they were going to mimic Billy and Stu in stabbing themselves, only. . .

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness

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