The original Scream was a big hit for Wes Craven back in the late 90’s, and though he followed the film up with two sequels, neither lived up to the cleverness and sheer entertainment value of the original. It’s about 12 years later, though, and Craven’s decided to go to the Scream well one more time. Will Scream 4 be any good? Let’s analyze the film’s chances (and offer up the newest trailer for Scream 4) below, my gentle Examiner readers…
Back in the late 90’s, when Wes Craven gave us Scream, the idea of shoehorning comedy into horror– self-referential comedy, at that– was borderline revolutionary. Oh, sure, it’d been done before, but never with such successful results: the first Scream generated a boatload of cash for Dimension, made Craven relevant again, and spawned two sequels. Hell, the first Scream was such a breath of fresh air, it actually made Neve Campbell a movie star for about ten minutes. But what are the odds that Scream 4— whose new trailer has just debuted online– will be as good as the first?
The second Scream— imaginatively titled Scream 2 and featuring every cast member from the first film that hadn’t been killed off– expanded on the mythology established in the first film, with Sydney Prescott (that’s Campbell) heading off to college and dealing with the fact that all the events we witnessed in the first Scream became fodder for a best-selling book and movie called Stab. Sydney was famous, and that gave Scream 2 its hook, a fairly sturdy story to ground itself in. But despite a slam-bang opening that many felt topped the original, Scream 2 seemed a little…flat.
As for Scream 3, well, if you’ve seen it, then you already know that Craven and company discovered that the franchise had run out of steam by the time the second sequel hit theaters. It didn’t help that everyone and their uncle had jumped aboard the “Snarky Horror Movie” bandwagon, with ever major studio releasing crap like I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, Valentine, Urban Legend 2, and other wank-worthy trainwrecks.
The original Scream may have been great, but the damage it wrought on the horror genre is still being felt today: Because so many people got tired of the “Snarky Horror Movie”, Hollywood pushed back in the other direction, offering up a series of horror films with absolutely zero laughs. This, of course, was the advent of “Torture Porn”, and– once again– one or two successful films (Hostel, Saw) in that sub-genre led to a slew of copycats that only muddied the waters. When it comes to horror films, Hollywood uses less tact and foresight than they apply to any other genre. Yes, even the “Superhero Genre”.
So, what’re the odds that Scream 4— the third sequel (for those of you unfamiliar with basic math), also directed by Craven and written by original Scream scribe Kevin Williamson– won’t completely suck? The newly-released trailer indicates that Craven’s actually invested in this installment, for one thing: those of you who remember last year’s My Soul to Take (I literally had to look up that title, as I couldn’t remember it for the life of me) know what it looks like when Wes Craven makes a film that he clearly doesn’t give a sh-t about. Scream 4 doesn’t look like My Soul to Take- or Cursed-Wes Craven: it looks like original-Scream-Wes Craven, or Nightmare on Elm Street-Wes Craven. That’s a step in the right direction.
Furthemore, the film’s got a fairly decent cast: Alison Brie (currently breaking hearts amongst the precious few people that are actually watching NBC’s Community, like they should), Kristen Bell, Rory Culkin, and Anna Paquin are all joining original stars Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, and David Arquette for this installment of the franchise, and all of those names are points added to the “Won’t Suck” scorecard. Then again, the same amount of points can be redacted for Hayden Panettiere, Adam Brody, and Emma Roberts. So, let’s call it even on the casting of Scream 4.
The script is, again, written by the series’ original writer, Kevin Williamson, but it’s difficult to determine whether or not that’s going to work for or against the film. On the one hand, Williamson wrote the original Scream. On the other hand, Williamson also wrote Scream 3, Teaching Mrs. Tingle, Cursed, and had a hand in creating both The Vampire Diaries and Dawson’s Creek. If we’re going to speculate on whether or not Scream 4‘s script will be worth a damn, the empirical evidence found in Williamson’s filmography does not bode well. Then again, maybe this’ll be his return to the glory he enjoyed after the original Scream arrived.
It’s worth noting that Williamson has already entered negotiations to write Scream 5, should Scream 4 hit big at the box office. This means that, even in the best case scenario– that Scream 4 is wildly entertaining and a return to form for both Craven and Williamson– Hollywood appears ready to make the exact same mistakes that they made the first time around: taking something that all of enjoyed and beating us over the head with it until we crack and a new sub-genre of horror needs to be created. What comes after “Torture Porn”? “Haunting Porn”? “Exorcism Porn”? “Werewolf Porn” (actually, I’m fairly certain that “Werewolf Porn” already exists, at least in the form of slash-fic written by Twi-hards)? It’ll be ugly to find out.
We’re pulling for Scream 4 here at Comedy Examiner HQ, but after analyzing the evidence, we’ve gotta admit that we’ll be heading into that screening of Scream 4 with diminished expectations. Here’s hoping that Scream 4 is more Scream than Scream 3. While you’re here, check out the brand-new trailer for Scream 4 over there on the left, and feel free to sound off in the comments section if you’ve got anything to add to all this. As always, you can stay tuned for future updates on Scream 4 (and any more Scream 4 trailers) as they become available.
And stay tuned for more funny news, reviews, interviews, and more from Comedy Examiner HQ in the near future, folks. We’ve got all manner of nonsense to keep you entertained and informed during the week, so hit the “Subscribe” button up top to get all future Comedy Examiner articles delivered straight to your inbox, free of charge, the moment they’re published…including all of our future Scream 4-related coverage.