By Adam Nayman and Justin Stewart
On Mondays, two Reverse Shotters wipe the weekend from their bleary eyes and engage in a postmortem on the multiplex trash (good or bad) they took in.
Late in Scream 4, a character desperately recites a long list of horror movie titles. It’s an act of name-dropping that’s also a last, desperate stab at self-preservation, because, if she eventually cites the right one, she’ll be spared from death at the hands of whoever it is that has donned the series’ trademark black cloak and mass-produced Munchian mask. Or so she thinks, anyway: her incantatory inventory of late-twentieth-century genre filmmaking succeeds only in marking time before a well-placed knife to the gut removes her from the narrative—and by extension our suspicion that she’s the one behind the series’ iconic Ghostface Killer costume, a shell game which remains the only real point of narrative interest. (SPOILER ALERT: the killer is the One You Least Suspect). In a movie that is nothing if not aware of its own operations, this is something like an unguarded moment or even a despairing autocritique, although this is surely not the intention. Putting his most hallowed titles in the mouths of a babe, Kevin Williamson means to assert his genre savvy, yet the evidence of a stacked DVD shelf proves to be a fruitless defense mechanism for writer and character both. Continue reading