Critics Are Split on 'Scream 4'

While one writes the "once-sharp franchise now feels noticeably dated," another calls it "brilliant and bloody."

Wes Craven's much-anticipated Scre4m opens in theaters Friday -- and is expected to have a strong box office take. But what are the critics saying about the remake?

"The film very quickly, and tediously, becomes more of the same old and Craven thing—self-referential film buff gags accompanied by a clockwork killing spree that seriously reduces the population of a small town," writes The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy. "Strong anticipation by series fans and a high body count all but guarantee an opening weekend box office killing, followed by fairly rapid theatrical fall-off and robust home viewing life."

"At 111 minutes, this goes on far too long for its own good but, then, the previous three did too, so hardcore fans won't mind. The generational mix of actors works well enough, although [Neve] Campbell too often seems stranded with little to do until the climax," he adds.

The New York Daily News' Elizabeth Weitzman calls the remake (the first Scream film in 11 years) "stale." PHOTOS: Scream stars 15 years later.

"After a promising start that uses Anna Paquin and Kristen Bell to perfection, [creators Craven and Kevin Williamson] settle into their old stomping grounds as if they'd never left — and that turns out to be a letdown," Weitzman writes.

"Relying on obvious clichés doesn't seem ironic anymore, just easy. And though there are several genuine jolts, poor pacing leaves too much time between the silliness and scares," she adds. "Craven and Williamson have done little to renew their model, so for all its clever self-awareness, this once-sharp franchise now feels noticeably dated."

Still, she notes, "anyone sick of seeing Costas Mandylor sub for Tobin Bell in the umpteenth Saw sequel will appreciate their efforts."

"Uninspiring, unoriginally postmodern, Scream 4 fails to frighten or enlighten," writes Phelim O'Neill in the U.K. Guardian.

"While the first movie was a smart, witty take on slasher-film tropes, the follow-ups quickly fell into the same trap as the many films that were inspired by it: carte blanche was seemingly given to lift elements from other films as long as there was some smartarse, film-literate character to namecheck the title. Admitting a theft may ease the conscience, but it doesn't make it OK. Nor does Scream 4 ever come up with anything better than the horror films it is continually putting down," adds O'Neill.

The Los Angeles' Times Betsy Sharkey wasn't as tough on the flick.

"Scream 4 finds a way to live up to its gory past while it carves out new terrors in new ways (new media helps). The kills themselves are both bountiful and bloody, the movie references are brilliant and bloody, the funny is very frequent and very frequently bloody, but to say any more would ruin the boo," she writes.