For a spoiler-free overview of the Scream Trilogy click here.
Tomorrow Scream 4 arrives in french cow country and to say I’m excited might not really cut it, after all Scream has been my first “serious horror movie” when I was ten and I am now in the demographic being targeted as nostalgia cash-in.
The idea of having a fourth Scream or Scre4m as they call it now, always sounded ridiculous to me – then again I was young and believed what the guy in the television told me. “The rules” clearly established in Scream 3 that either you have a continuing franchise OR a concluded trilogy.
Since Scream 3 (or Scr3am ?) took the second route a sequel was out of the question…
But in a year where we have 3 part 4s (Scre4m, Pirates 4 and Twilight 4) it doesn’t seem that far off. The question is:
Will this movie be any good?
First of all let us look at the reason (other than money which of course is reason number 1). Would there be a logical excuse to cash in on our nostalgia?
The Scream trilogy was a Slasher movie while observing the entire Slasher Genre, it’s rules and reasons. So with 11 years having past there are 11 years of horror movies to observe and mock. Especially the fact that now every major slasher is getting remade (Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, The hills have Eyes… the list goes on an on) lends Scream this refreshing “let’s make fun of all those attempts to cash in by cashing in on another franchise!”.
If Scream 4 doesn’t tackle the reboot-mania it will lose one of it’s biggest opportunities, but since it is already in the trailer I think this thing will be covered for good. I just hope for a discussion section à la “Stab 4 – why would anyone make a reboot?” similar to Scream 2.
Passing the torch
I don’t know I this is a good thing, I’m just curious to see it.
The current state of movies and remakes leads to a lot of “reimaginations” as well as attempts to bridge the gap between the original core audience and the potential new money-supplier.
It mostly degrades to something like Indiana Jones 4 where they use iconic imagery to get our memories going back while shoving in someone “hip and new”. If this movie goes this route it is dead in the water, if the characters are too aware and make too much fun of the previous movies it is over.
Because Scream is now a household name and they want to market it as hip and trendy there are way more “sexy” looking actors in the mix, compared to the original Scream which featured mostly “normal looking” actors, to give the movie a sense of realism instead of the fake Hollywood-production feeling you get when watching a physics lesson in Transformers 2 featuring only Maxim-models as physicists (sadly not true).
Still allowing a new cast in means that we cannot estimate how the group will behave (if they have a good screenplay, but that goes without saying), there is a new element of uncertainty that wasn’t there since the first Scream movie where everyone was new to the play. This will also be very helpful for bringing Scream to “the new generation”, the problem that might pose itself are…
The old players
Despite their break-up both Courteney Cox and David Arquette are back in their respective roles as is Neve Campbell in the role of Sydney Prescott. How they will handle those three players will be as important and I would point towards the series Scrubs as an example of how NOT to do it.
Scrubs was a series that was just so hilarious it went on and on until people lost interest and it died a slow ungrateful death. There was a final episode in season 7 where most people tuned in (I stopped after mid-season 5) and it was quite ok and a good end. But instead of having this ending the producers decided to go with the “passing the torch” routine and had the protagonists lecturing the new generation of doctors before leaving the show and having the new cast step in.
It might have worked on paper but the first episode alone made me dust off my own Ghostface-costume and end the series. The authors quickly realized how bad the new protagonists were and that the only thing people wanted to see were things with the original cast, so instead of going out with a nice goodbye after a few lackluster episodes Scrubs was cancelled after a disastrous attempt to get more money out of it.
With all three players returning it will be interesting to see how much they affect the plot or if they are just there as fanservice to get the old dogs back into the cinema seats.
Writing this I was close to admit that I haven’t yet seen a good change of generations, but we shouldn’t forget 2009’s Star Trek. J.J. Abrams wisely hired Leonard Nimoy (Spock) to give the movie the feel of being an actual sequel and not just something where the old things get thrown out of the window. Star Trek (2009) connected Spock’s character to the plot but he never overshadowed the new generation, it was their movie and he was the wise man to return, be a little master Yoda and wish the new ones good luck.
Where Star Trek had it “easy” was that the new generation was basically the same roles with different actors so this might have been easier to accept, the key of Scream 4 will be if it can make us connect to the new protagonists and not make us wish we would spend more time with Syndey.
New generation – new rules
Scream was always keen on observing “the rules” which contrary to Lost were actually defined at one time in the story. And the rules change with the target demographic. If the audience lusts for more gore, they will get more gore, if they have grown tired of movies try to cater them with 3D – there are 11 years worth of new attempts to entertain us and Scream can do what it always did best: observe this.
Like Zombieland Scream puts the people who complain that they would know better into the world of Ghostface and while I can not name any specific rule right off the bat I am sure there is something to discuss.
Also IF (big if) handled correctly it can go into a direction no other current horror movie has because like the first movie it can change the rules, because Scream reflects on the past movies it can outsmart them and give us something fresh, so I guess regarding the identity of the killer all bets are off.
Maybe it is a guy in a wheelchair from the future?
Maybe Sydney has finally gone mad?
Maybe Gale wants to win the Pulitzer prize?
But since I’ve just written that it is too predictable – then again maybe that’s why it could be true, remember the trailer:
The unexpected is the new cliché
So if they stay true to their word they might really surprise us.
Well… I’d say: Remember the rules, don’t visit IMDB, don’t read any comments posted under a trailer for Scream because I’m sure the spoilers will be everywhere. I promise a spoiler-free reaction after I see the movie tomorrow. Until then there is only one question that bugs me:
What’s your favorite scary movie?