New decade, new rules, huh? Not exactly. Pop quiz: what would a “Scream” movie be without its movie in-jokes, exactly? Hmm, perhaps an original film? A Canadian trailer for the Weinstein Company‘s desperate franchise cash-in has arrived and get it while it’s hot because the studio keeps taking down various trailers on YouTube only for them to spring up again five minutes later. They should probably realize the wildfire has spread and it’s best to just release an official version already.
As we already articulated in our Leftover Question Marks Of 2011 – Can These Films Possibly Be Any Good? feature (part one), TWC got into financial dire straits in 2008/2009, had to go looking for lenders, and almost went bankrupt etc. During that time the company said to itself, “what bonafide turn-a-buck moneymakers do we own, now that we don’t have the rights to Miramax films”? (and yes, now that Miramax and TWC are back under the same umbrella, they asked themselves this again and scooped up rights to further potential franchises like “Clerks” among others). So during that period of financial unease, TWC decided to dust off the “Spy Kids” and “Scream” franchises, and then enticed back director Wes Craven and original screenwriter Kevin Williamson who pretty much hasn’t written a thing of value since the original meta, in-jokey “Scream” film.
Williamson walked sometime before production started and was replaced with “Scream 3” writer Ehren Kruger. Since this new trailer basically reads like “Scream: The Neverending Sitcom” replete with the now-predictable, eye-rolling premium on self-referential-ness, we assume and hope Williamson bailed because he actually wanted to — once again — rejuvenate the horror genre, rather than just stick to the formula. But franchises don’t reinvent (sorry “new rules’). TWC knows that audiences, if they care at all, want a McScream Big Mac, so this is why the trailer offers absolutely nothing new other than some fresh faces to be killed off. Frankly, the fanboy fascination with this film is a little disappointing, even by their low standards.
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The original cast is back: David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox— plus the fresh meat Anna Paquin and Kristen Bell (early photos already give away the two as the “surprise kills” off the bat – yet another cliche in the “Scream” series) and more newcomers like Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Rory Culkin, Marley Shelton, Adam Brody, Anthony Anderson and Alison Brie. Sure “Scream 4” has been modernized somewhat: it’s 10 years later, there’s YouTube-y/found-footage being used because “Paranormal Activity” is hot, but it’s almost insulting how little Wes Craven, Dimension Films and the producers think of our collective need for something remotely fresh at the cinema.
In fact, they’re banking on us all being as lazy as possible and coming back for one more film because we can — just like the reason a dog licks its balls. This terrifically banal, boring and on-the-nose trailer suggests, if you’ve seen “Scream 1-3,” desire absolutely nothing new in your life and/or you like tossing away your money, then this is the movie for you. “Scream 4,” or “Scre4m” if you will, is set to arrive just fourteen days after April Fool’s Day and if it does well, it hopes to launch another new franchise. Won’t it be fun watching Sidney Prescott being terrorized by a bunch of psychotic teenagers in masks when she’s in her ’60s? Keeping this series chugging along is going to need logic as inventive as that found in a 20-year-running soap opera. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.