“Scream 4” has a lot to say about requels too, and its plot actually follows through on those critiques. Even back in 2011, requels of beloved horror franchises were incredibly common, which is pointed out in the tense phone call scene between Kirby (Hayden Panettiere) and one of the killers. Kirby thinks if she gets the answer wrong, Ghostface will kill her tied-up classmate Charlie Walker (Rory Culkin). The final question starts off as, “Name the remake of the groundbreaking horror movie in which the villain…” but the killer doesn’t get to finish. A panicked Kirby just starts counting off a long list of all the big-name horror movie remakes we’d had over the years.
Panettiere’s delivery is so tense and emotional that you may not recognize it’s just one big joke being made at the expense of the horror genre. “Scream 4” is noting how tired and predictable the remake strategy is for a horror franchise, which feels particularly pointed considering how much “Scream 4” initially sells itself as a quasi-remake. More accurately, it sells itself as a requel, but the script sticks to “remake” because it was the closest word we had at the time.
It’s why the big twist was shocking for a lot of viewers, even though in hindsight, it should’ve been obvious. Before the reveal, Jill Roberts (Emma Roberts) is never attacked alone like Sidney was in the original film. By the time you hit the midpoint of “Scream 4,” it becomes clear that Jill, Kirby, and Charlie are basically the only new cast members with a personality distinct enough to give their killer reveal an impact.