When I first heard that Dimension Pictures was planning a fourth Scream movie, some eleven years after the trilogy ended, I was pretty skeptical. I was a big fan of the original film as a loving send-up of horror movies. It was the rare film that managed to actually be a great example of the very genre it was attempting to parody. The second movie did the same with horror sequels. The third movie… well… wasn’t as good as the first two (a fact I largely attribute to the departure of series creator Kevin Williamson as screenwriter), but I thought it had its strong points, and brought some nice, circular closure to the trilogy.
Coming back with a fourth installment over a decade later? The first thing that came to mind was, “Cash grab.” After all, the Weinstein Company — which took Dimension with it when the founders left Disney-owned Miramax — still hasn’t had the megahit it really wants. Revisiting the movie that is, arguably, the Weinsteins’ biggest success to date reeks of a studio that wants money badly.
I was slightly encouraged by the news that Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, and David Arquette would all be returning. I was more encouraged to hear that writer Kevin Williamson and director Wes Craven were both returning as well. Cox certainly doesn’t need the money, and Craven has been known to walk away from a series when it started to suck (Nightmare on Elm Street) only to return and do one of the best installments (New Nightmare). And while I’m not sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing, when Williamson said he had ideas to make Scream 4 part of a second trilogy (although he wouldn’t begin work on 5 until he saw how 4 was received) I found that particularly interesting.
But perhaps the thing that interests me the most is when Williamson said that the new movie will be a dissection of horror films of the 21st century. The original Scream, in 1996, was largely an examination of the horror films of the 80s — slasher movies with a certain set of rules and tropes. Horror movies today are a lot different than that. Many of most popular ones are usually paranormal in nature (something the Scream films have never been), lighter on the gore and heavier on the suspense — or at least an attempt at suspense, as very often such films fall short. Either that, or crappy remakes. I’m very curious as to exactly how Williamson can reconcile such films with the universe he created in the original Scream series.
The rest of the popular horror flicks are in the “Torture Porn” variety, the one that Saw made popular, that Hostel made ubiquitous, and that The Human Centipede makes so completely absurd. The Scream films were never that heavy on violence, but the over-the-top set pieces and elaborate twists and turns those movies take… well, that would fit into the Scream wheelhouse nicely, wouldn’t it?
I’m not sure what, exactly, will make me happy in a Scream 4 or in a new Scream trilogy. There are a few things I won’t be happy about, and those all focus on the three remaining characters: Campbell’s Sidney Prescott, Arquette’s Dewey Riley, and Cox’s Gale Weathers.
First of all, if any of them turns out to actually be the killer (or one of the killers), I’ll be pissed. These three survivors each went through a good, solid character arc in the original trilogy. To see any of them, after so much time, revert to being a murderer would really disrespect who they were back then.
Second, if any of them are killed in the new film’s opening scene. I wouldn’t be surprised if any, or all of them were to die before the second series ended, mind you. Both 2 and 3 included the deaths of one of the survivors of the original film. Now we’ve only got three original survivors left, and if there are three more movies, I could see Williamson killing off one in each film. But I wouldn’t want to see them die in the opening scene. Again, that would feel disrespectful to characters who have been through so much. If any of them die, I want to see them go out in a big way.
I also would really want a shout out, at least a small one, to Jamie Kennedy’s character from the older films. Just because Randy Meeks was awesome.
Other than that, I don’t think I have any expectations. But I am interested in what’s coming next. So I’ll see Scream 4 next weekend with an open mind. Craven and Williamson, I think, have earned that much.