Why was Wes Craven talking about more Scream sequels, when Scream 4 was such an obvious final nail in the coffin of his beloved horror franchise?
Another trilogy is planned. Nothing from the ending suggested a direction this could go. Nothing in the film itself suggested there was new life in the series. It was a retread, almost as bad as a remake would have been. But usually with remakes, there is some notable difference in the visual quality. Look at the Texas Chainsaw remakes. They have that gold plated, over produced sheen to them. Those movies have a “glimmer” about them, shiny and neat.
I always liked the look of the Scream movies. It was almost like a TV show, something you would see on CW (or back when they came out, WB). The killings and general grim storylines were a fun contrast to the commercial look. It’s as if they kept the fun, sunny style of “Clueless”, kept a few of its dullard characters around, and then proceeded to dispatch them in gruesome violent ways. It was a formula that succeeded.
Writer Kevin Williamson is largely responsible for bridging old school horror films from the 80s into the 90s, and the same is attempted again by bridging the 90s into the 10s. Scream is very much a 90s franchise. The noughts are reserved for Japanese horror, home invasion horror, and horror remakes. But nothing in the years between Scream 3 and Scream 4 has indicated that the franchise deserves to be revisited. The trailers had Ghostface talking about remakes, and how since it’s a new decade, there are new rules.
But the new rules aren’t very obvious. If you just watched the trailer, there’s no “aha!” moment where you feel totally compelled to dip a toe back into the murky waters of the franchise. Sure, we have cell phones. We have facebook and twitter. Add it all up, and what does it mean?
After seeing this film my suspicions were confirmed: nobody really has any idea.
Lets start with one of the weirdest details of the film. The characters still use land lines.
Second weird detail. Everyone still lives in the suburbs! How simple is it to move Ghostface to New York, like they did with Jason? Does moving Ghostface into an urban setting change the film? Absolutely not. It keeps in the tradition of following the same pattern of every slasher film every made. And since this film isn’t trying to “reinvent” slasher films, common sense tells me to move Ghostface. So if it’s a new decade, and there are new rules, the easiest way to sell that concept is to get Ghostface the fuck out of Woodsboro.
Keeping it there meant the writers got lazy with the premise. One of the survivors returns to Woodsboro on a book tour. Killings resume.
I had a lot of issue with it, because it seemed so obvious. Even the actors who reprised their roles seemed to phone it in, implying they thought it was too obvious as well. It leaves a stale, dull taste in everybody’s mouth. Especially for the audience.
So already the film had an uphill battle. The only way to make things less dull was to spice up the killings, which was my third problem with the film. Most of the killings were done with a knife, and CGI was used this time around. Wes Craven said they would look more real. And he was right about that – the stabbings look more real. But as a result of looking more real, they are harder to enjoy. I like blood and guts as much as the next guy, but stabbings seem to have more real world weight associated with them. People get stabbed in real life all the time. There’s nothing really too fun about it. Watching someone get stabbed in the movie is kind of a downer. I never really thought the killings were too fun in the earlier movies, either. The elaborate design leading up to the killings were great, and the opening scene of Scream is a perfect example of that. But there’s nothing nearly as inventive in this film. It’s safe to say there is gore here that is just gratuitous, without the enjoyment factor typically associated with that kind of violence.
What they meant by “new rules” was actually “new, younger cast”. They are pivotal to the success of the film, especially the third act which I actually enjoyed the most. That’s because we get removed from the “original cast” and stay on the “new cast” a little, and get a feel for their character dynamics for the first time in the film. Just think about that. We don’t really know who these brats are until the last, oh, twenty minutes. That makes the finale fun, and I think the script does a decent job of bringing the younger cast and the older cast together at the end.
But this film says nothing about new rules, and the new decade. The writers don’t know. Craven doesn’t know. Which explains why there is absolutely no direction for this “second trilogy” to take.
My advice? Take Ghostface to Manhattan.