If you don't have plans to see this movie, you can check the spoilers here and then come back.
Whereas Scream 2 and 3 were increasingly tired retreads of the type of movies the franchise was intended to be a commentary on, Scream 4 gets back to being smart, original and having something to say while also entertaining and scaring just like the initial installment. It's not the perfect movie by any means, but it's entertaining, satisfying, clever and, as noted, actually has a message or two on stuff beyond the usual horror fare like the nature of fame in 2011 society. The returning cast was what it needed to be: Neve Campbell remains fairly uncharismatic but knows how to play this part and anchor the film, Courteney Cox has still got it when it comes to being a firecracker, and David Arquette turns on his dopey anti-charm for the one role it really works in. Not every member of the younger cast stood out, but Emma Roberts certainly showed she's ready to be a big star who can come at a part from multiple angles while Hayden Panettiere demonstrated a nice contrast of confidence and experience played against the other newbies, reminding why she became a big deal so young to begin with. The movie is also blessed with a potpourri of excellent cameos and minor players, with Anthony Anderson, Adam Brody and especially Alison Brie in particular making the most of their screen time. But cast aside, the writing is strong in that it's witty, it moves fast and it keeps you guessing; the mystery is a nicely set-up one and best of all nothing about this thing ever seemed to take itself too seriously, which made it fun above being brilliant or even scary, and that's what I was looking for. The neat meta-commentary aspect that made the first Scream unique and withered out in the second two was also back in full force, fueled by all the advances in technology over the past decade (Wes Craven may have gotten a little too excited to get to use cell phones as a plot point, but I'll forgive him). I do have to deduct some points for two things in particular, one minor thing and one fairly major one, the minor being just a quibble that Gale's arc was supposed to be about her having trouble to adjusting to small town life away from the spotlight, but with the timeline of her and Dewey having been married and living in Woodsboro for a decade, that didn't jive for me. Without spoiling anything, I will agree with other reviews I have read that they definitely did wimp out on the ending and I don't think the final 15 minutes really did anybody any favors, but this is one definitely worth seeing and judging for yourself.