Ten years after the last Ghostface murder, director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson reteam for another round of stalking, slashing and general satirising of the horror genre. Regular Screamers Neve Campbell, David Arquette and Courteney Cox return with fresh meat Emma Roberts and Hayden Panettiere as Ghostface is resurrected on the anniversary of his first killing spree.
Fifteen years after Wes Craven's assured direction and Kevin Williamson's original whip-smart screenplay revitalised the genre, Sidney Prescott (Campbell) returns to Woodsboro to publicise her critically acclaimed self-help book.
And guess what? Her visit happens to coincide with the anniversary of the original massacre, giving yet another weirdo a chance for infamy by slicing and dicing some nubile, buxom teens.
There are essentially two casts - along with Campbell, David Arquette and Courteney Cox comfortably step back into their roles, though the now-married couple are experiencing problems that eerily mirror their estranged relationship in real life.
The new class consists of Sidney's cousin Jill (Roberts), her movie obsessed friend Kirby (Panettiere - a highlight), token hot girl Olivia (Marielle Jaffe) and the reincarnations of Scream 1 and 2's dearly departed Randy, Charlie (Rory Culkin) and Robbie (Erik Knudsen).
Painfully aware the third instalment was less than stellar, Craven and Williamson have used their 1996 classic as a template for Sidney's return.
Fans of the trilogy will have more than a few references to spot while the general satirising style has been turned up so high, viewers may overdose on all the meta.
Anyone unfamiliar with or ambivalent about the series will find it tiresome, while everyone else will respond to reference after reference and Williamson's occasionally crackling script with a giggle. Because you get it and they don't.
The fun with Scream was never inventive deaths or genuine scares, it's the whodunit mystery that tiptoed over the line of ridiculousness a decade ago. And a good thing too, since the set-pieces, deaths and numerous victims can be seen coming from a mile off.
The new set of slasher rules relating to remakes and reboots leave anyone and everyone a potential victim/killer and mercifully the final reveal is anything but a letdown, with a bit of social commentary thrown in for good measure.
Although the old guard (some with distractingly new faces) don't have much to do, Campbell's measured and subtle performance tones down the at-times overbearing comical elements. But Scream 4 is thankfully a strong return to form.