Why Twilight May Inadvertently Ruin Scream 4


The news has made its way all over the trades by now.  Writer Kevin Williamson (Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, The Faculty) is officially on board to not only write the 4th installment of the Scream franchise, but also the next two volumes that are tentatively planned.  It’s a bold move to reboot a franchise only a few years of its heyday, but then again it didn’t really hurt for that Batman fella did it?  Williamson was the brain child behind the extremely successful television show Dawson’s Creek and of course he was the writer of Scream and Scream 2.  So if anyone can bring back the success of Scream, it’s going to be the man that wrote the original screenplay.  On the directorial side of things, Wes Craven said that he may be back, but it’s going to have to be a perfect combination of the right amount of money (i.e. he wants an assload of money) and a good script (which if anyone, Williamson will pull off).  So right now, it seems like this new Scream trilogy is going to actually happen, but one question went unasked that probably should have been is “Do we really want any more Scream movies?”

When Scream first came out in 1996, it opened to critical acclaim (84% on rotten tomatoes) and massive audience appeal banking 170 million worldwide on a 14 million dollar budget with a bunch of TV actors.  The film forced the viewer to confront the tired and repeated antics of the slasher genre and force them under the microscope.  After they had been analyzed, Williamson and Craven take those exact traits that they just told you were tired and overused, and then use them to scare the living poop out of you.  It was a smart, witty, and insightful look into the horror genre and it really set the bar high for the future of horror, which (in my opinion) no one has reached to this day.  Was it a perfect film?  Absolutely not, but damned if it wasn’t new and fresh while still keeping the aesthetic of everything we love about the genre.  I know I’m not talking about Twilight yet, I am getting there.

Scream 2 came out to an absolutely ridiculous amount of hype which didn’t even give it a chance.  It was another smart whodunit horror flick, but didn’t have the shock value and overall fresh new scent of the bright future.  It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either.  We all knew going into Scream 2 that it was going to be a mystery of who the killer way and we all spent the movies making our guesses and trying to figure out who it was.  Scream 3 on the other hand was a piece of garbage.  The third installment was the Scream version of Batman and Robin, if you will (and you should).  Now the reason this whole trilogy wraps into Twilight is because essentially, the fans of Twilight are going to be the exact demographic that Scream 4 will try target, and that could be terrible.

Let’s not kid ourselves here, Twilight was a much loved hit (despite a bad critical response) by the fans of young vampire stories (and their mothers apparently?).  In Hollywood as we all know, originality is scorned while rehashing old hat is king, so inevitable either Kevin Williamson will be watching and analyzing Twilight to see what works in it and what elements he could use, or some studio exec is going to say the phrase “how can we make this more like Twilight? Kids Love Twilight!”

I didn’t see Twilight and my business here isn’t to bash anyone (unless they really deserve it, and Twilight doesn’t), but from reading reviews, listening to fans of Twilight talk, and all the buzz on the sequels, it seems like a world that is much loved and has its fans, but doesn’t belong anywhere near the Scream universe.  Maybe I am completely blowing this out of proportion.  Maybe no one is saying what can Scream do to be more like Twilight, but what they are saying is “how do we capture the success of the first Scream?”  Well I guess you would have to relate it to kids today… and what do they like?  They like Twilight and Hot Topic and AFI and a bunch of other emo stuff like that.

I feel deep down that even with the odds against it Scream 4 could be a success.  Tapping into the original writer and the original director could spark something and who knows; maybe a genuinely great film will come out of the whole process.  Then again how easy would it be to make another Shutter or another The Haunting of Molly Hartley?   Turning Scream into a watered down PG- 13 thriller would be the worst thing that could happen to the films.  Then again this is Wes Craven we are talking about here, he did make the Last House on the Left… and Cursed.   I guess this could really go either way.

In order to be a success, Scream 4 has go to essentially reinvent itself as a franchise, or at least add to; if not, eclipse current horror films, and still stay in the aesthetic world that we all liked from the Scream franchise.  That is not going to be easy even if you are Kevin Williamson or Wes Craven.  There is a big hill in front of them and I don’t know if in today’s Hollywood it is even going to be possible to see the top of it.  I’m worried that we are going to run into something of a lesser quality that takes a (at least) well liked franchise and plays it till death to the point where no one cares about it anymore.  Then again, maybe Scream 4 and its sequels will reinvent the horror genre for everyone after it culminating on a new world of filmmaking like in the 70s when documentary style gritty filmmaking was implemented with huge success.  It’s going to be hard to try and not make Scream anything like Twilight, but I think with enough diligence and distain… it will all work out.

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