“Scream 4” director Wes Craven is joining us here on MTV Movies Blog all week long as our guest editor, sharing insight into the origins of his latest horror flick and what went into the casting process.
As Jamie Kennedy’s dearly departed Randy Meeks was so fond of reminding us, there are certain rules you need to follow in order to survive a scary movie. Likewise, the rules of scary movies have become an integral plot point to the “Scream” films. But one thing we’re not entirely clear on is this: what are the rules of a scary movie trailer?
“It’s tricky,” Wes admitted when asked about what goes into making an effective scary movie trailer, adding that it’s difficult to keep the viewer intrigued without spoiling too many surprises.
“I think the studio in general — and not just the studio, quite frankly, but most studios — feel that the audience will forget exactly what they saw in that trailer when they get into the movie theater,” he said. “I think that’s probably a mistaken notion. But on the other hand, you can’t just show talking scenes where nothing happens.”
As a result, the “Scream” trailers show several scenes where multiple characters’ lives are in danger. There are moments in the second trailer where it looks like Gale Weathers has finally met her maker, or the trailer-ending scene where Ghostface runs up behind Adam Brody. But don’t make the mistake of thinking you know the full picture just from those glimpses.
“In some cases, we showed scenes where people are getting attacked but they survive or evade death, just throwing things out there to keep a bit of the murder mystery alive,” said Wes. “In some cases, we have attacks in the film where people can’t get away completely free. We feel those kinds of situations are sprinkled throughout the trailers. So anything that people might see might or might not show the demise of a character. In that sense, we tried to leave it so that you’d see something exciting, but you don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. It may or may not turn out exactly how it looks like it’s going to turn out when you see it in the trailer.”
But even Wes admitted that there have been moments where trailers for “Scream 4” almost went too far: “I have to say there were a couple of times — quite recently, in fact — where I said, ’Why don’t you give the whole movie away?'” he laughed. “With Adam, well, okay, now we know he gets attacked right there at the car.”
“In fairness to the guys making the trailers, they’re walking a very tricky line,” he conceded. “They do it progressively by revealing a little bit more in each trailer. I think there have been four or five trailers and teasers in the course of leading up to the film, and they increasingly want to show a little bit more without giving away the best parts of the film and having the audience go into the theater knowing exactly what’s going to happen.”
And Wes insists that the best scenes from “Scream 4” have not been given away.
“The dance number of Ghostface with Neve dressed as a polar bear, I insisted that that be taken back out of the trailer,” he laughed. “Look for that in the very last trailer!”
What do you think are the rules of making a scary movie trailer? Weigh in on the conversation in the comments section and on Twitter, and stay with us all week for more from Wes Craven!