While the original Scream parodies the slasher genre in general, Scream 4 chooses solely to parody the first Scream only. As a horror movie, Scream 4 is a complete and utter failure, as there isn't an ounce of tension to be had throughout its entire run time. That said, I'm not entirely sure that this movie was even aiming to be a horror, as the general tone feels almost spoofy at times.
The movie opens with multiple beginnings (a sequence which I hated), showing scenes from the "Stab" movies, a franchise of films that exists within the Scream universe, chronicling the events that took place in the Scream films. In previous Screams, the "Stab" scenes always feel a bit more campy and over-the-top. This separates them from the tone of the actual movies, which feel more grounded in reality. Scream 4 changes that, however, as the whole movie maintains the hokey "Stab" tone all throughout.
Just to drive this point home (spoilers ahead), there's a scene where a guy is literally stabbed in the face, right between the eyes. Yet, despite this fatal wound, the guy still manages to stumble out of his car and stagger around mumbling, and even gets in a Bruce Willis joke before he finally falls dead. Ridiculous!
Anyways, this hokey feeling mainly comes down to all of the new characters, who all have a really campy feel to them. And other than Hayden Panettiere's character, I didn't find a single one of them to be interesting in the least. Nope, there's no Randys or Stus here, just a bunch of boring characters who try way to hard, only to fall flat. Now, I will say this, at least this time around the high school kids actually look like high schoolers, as opposed to a bunch of twenty-somethings pretending to be high schoolers. However, the fact that this time it actually is a bunch of kids getting slaughtered sort of does give this movie a creepy feeling.
The film is constantly reminding us that they're poking fun at all of the remakes these days by essentially remaking the first Scream. However, unlike the original, this movie isn't all that clever. It is, however, interesting, in an odd sort of way, even if most of the twists are fairly predictable. But in the end, this is a strange film. I don't know if I even like it, to be honest. All that I know right now is that I didn't loathe it like the third movie.