‘The woman who will not die’, Sidney Prescott, re-surfaces again in a fourth outing, along with embattled characters, the amicable Sheriff Dewey Riley and fearsome reporter Gale Weathers in yet another Wes Craven directed installment of the Scream franchise.

Without giving the game away (because we’re embargoed to the hilt) and spoiling the ending, or revealing the kill scenes and who remains alive, suffice to say there is always someone left standing to tell the tale, or there’s absolutely no point to the whole thing.

The story still follows Sidney (Neve Campbell), now the author of a self-help book, who returns home to Woodsboro for her last book-signing date and to stay with family, only for the dreaded nightmare that made her a celebrity to start all over again. This sees her reconnecting with Dewey (David Arquette) and Weathers (Courteney Cox), who are now a married couple, to try and save the town in danger from Ghostface.

Although all the old faces are back – and some more polished than others, mainly Cox in full cougar appearance who renders ex-real-life hubby Arquette a little older and wearier than his years, this film offers some welcome new faces and fresh blood (no pun intended), including Emma Roberts and Hayden Panettiere. The latter gives the fifteen-year-old franchise a much-needed lease of life and cool factor. Fans of the franchise get the originals, including their heroine Sidney, merely playing a familiar part, and some newbies in the same generic package, following similar plot patterns and throwing out red herrings as in the previous films.

However, eleven years on from the last, Scream 4 is very much more tech savvy in today’s terms, as well as self aware in ‘what makes a successful slasher film’. There is also a lot more parody at play. But Craven still uses the reliable stalker telephone call to bring a very real sense of dread – and hearing it still manages to send a chill down the spine. What’s not necessarily scary anymore is seeing the ghoul leaping around like it’s on fire – spoilt by seeing too much Scream fancy dress at Halloween, or hearing the black-and-white killer’s comical gruff telephone manner. That said the premise of the bogeyman lurking in the obvious horror-film hideouts is fully explored in this and challenged, and it certainly delivers its fair share of jumpy moments.

With a film conscious of being the very best scary movie it can be, Scream writer Kevin Williamson has upped his game and taken on board things that did not make sense in Scream 3 – reverting back to the original films’ ideas even, to deliver a more realistic explanation. And it works in some clever self diagnosis and previous Craven cinematic greats within some snappily edited sequences.

Basically, Scream 4 is much the same bag of bloody gory tricks but with more geek gadgets and a far better and more inventive plot, so fans can breathe a sigh of relief and revel in one more outing to support Ghostface in his body count: Does Sidney finally meet her maker? We can’t say, but it’s touch and go at times…