‘Scream 4′ Will Play With Sequelitis, Horror Trends Of The Past Decade

Scream 4” is now a little less than a year away, and we’re starting to hear some things about it. Last night, Entertainment Weekly debuted a new teaser poster for the movie, featuring the tagline “New Decade, New Rules. They’ve also got a new interview with now-confirmed director Wes Craven to go along with it.

Specific plot revelations are minimal; Craven really only confirms that the setting — at least in part — will be the fictional town of Woodsboro, now shot in Michigan instead of northern California. There’s much to take away from his vague comments and general observations, however. Reading between the lines leaves us much to think and speculate on.

The most telling plot discussion comes out of Craven’s response to the question of Sid’s (Neve Campbell) connection to the masked killer 10 years after the events of the previous trilogy:

There have been 10 years of no Ghostface, but there has been the movie-within-a-movie “Stab.” We have fun with the idea of endless sequels, or “sequelitis” as Kevin calls it in the script. Sid goes through these three horrendous things, and “Stab” was based on those horrible things. And then they’ve been taken by a studio and run into the ground in a series of sequels. She has been off by herself and living her own life, and she’s even written a book that has gotten a lot of critical acclaim. She’s kind of put her life back together in the course of these 10 years. But, certainly, there would be no “Scream” without Ghostface, so she has to confront him again, but now as a woman who has really come out the darkness of her past.

I still think Sid is doomed. Like opening minutes doomed. Drew Barrymore doomed. And Craven doesn’t really say anything to dispute that. If anything, he keeps himself deliberately non-specific. Here’s the most telling bite:

EW: Are Sidney (Campbell), Gale (Courteney Cox), and Dewey (David Arquette) still going to be the central characters, or are they on the periphery this time?

Craven: It’s a total integration of those three and new kids. The story of Sid, Gale, and Dewey is very much a part of the movie.

That’s some impressive dodging, isn’t it? “The story” of the original trilogy’s protagonists is central to “Scream 4.” Very carefully chosen words. Perhaps the entire threesome is doomed in the opening scene, not just Sid. Unless one of them turns out to be the killer of course. Or all of them. Frankly, it’s a credit to Kevin Williamson’s unpredictable twists in the original trilogy that any/all of these are possibilities, and more.

Whatever happens to anyone else, my prediction stands: I think Sid is doomed.

Also interesting are Craven’s comments about how “Scream 4″ will acknowledge recent trends in the horror genre. It’s right there in the poster’s tagline: “New Decade, New Rules.” The lighter elements in “Scream 4″ will grow out of characters commenting on and feeling exhausted by franchises that have overstayed their welcome and too many sequels/remakes.

While that’s pretty much on point, it also speaks to a more general filmmaking trend in the past decade. Remakes have always been popular, but in the past few years specifically it feels like there’s been a run on them. I think the bigger trend in horror — one that I hope “Scream 4″ spends some time toying with — is the attitude of showing over telling.

For the most part, classic horror films and franchises remain popular because of how effectively they build up to scares without ever having to show excessive amounts of gore. Films like “Saw,” “Hostel,” Rob Zombie’s “Halloween” and the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” remake (to name a few) bank more on grossing audiences out. Gore-nography, as I’ve come to call it; assaulting viewers with such horrific scenes of violence that they’re left uncomfortable. The problem with that is, the suspense that so defines classic horror is often sucked away in the process.

Finding a solution to this is the challenge. How do Craven, Williamson, et al create a suspenseful experience that nods to these trends without embracing them? Do you readers have any ideas? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.