(On Cable TV, March 2012) Absence is supposed to make the heart grow fonder, but what if you still loathe what comes back after a lengthy hiatus? The eleven-year gap between Scream 3 and Scream 4 means that the last film emerges at a time where the original trilogy has become a nostalgic footnote in the horror genre, but one thing hasn’t changed: It’s just as unpleasant to watch a film in which a quasi-infallible serial killer goes around killing innocent people. No amount of post-modern ironic meta-commentary can save that genre out of its dead-end hole, and within moments of the opening segment (which, in retrospect, manages to foreshadow the film’s ending) I found my opinion of the film racing in negative territory and my interest wandering elsewhere. I’m now comfortably out of the demographics that enjoys extended murder sequences, and there isn’t much more to this latest entry in the Scream series. The one thing I kind-of-liked is the now-unusual feel of the film as a depiction of an alternate-universe America where every character is a high-schooler living in expensive houses without adult supervision. There’s something quaintly charming and pleasant (in a wish-fulfillment sense) about those lives, and it’s really too bad that they have to come complete with a supernaturally swift knife-wielding psycho. Of the actors stuck in this wholly useless film, I can only say that it’s good to see Neve Campbell again, and that of the younger actors, Hayden Panettiere is the most captivating as the short-haired sarcastic Kirby. Otherwise, I can’t even muster any enthusiasm about this limp Scream 4. The only thing that deserves to be killed here is the psycho-killer genre.