It might be simplistic to say that the horror genre has fractured since the “Scream” franchise last appeared on screen in 2000, but not wholly inaccurate. In the eleven years since Wes Craven’s original trilogy hit the screens, screamers of all kinds have filled our need for things that go bump in the night.
Today, the franchise returns in the form of “Scream 4,” which brings much of the film’s original cast back for a new adventure. Good filmmakers are always thinking of new things, as Craven explained to us last week, and “Scream 4” promises new commentary on the genre he helped to popularize. Here’s a taste of how his genre of choice has changed since we last saw Ghostface, and how “Scream 4” fits into the new “mainstream” tradition.
Rebirth Of The Remake
The concept of the remake is simple: you cut away the continuity, and get back to the core of what made the franchise appealing in the first place. In the new millennium, the remake game got serious: storied, previously untouchable horror franchises like “Halloween” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” saw new starts, and even less popular films like Craven’s own “The Hills Have Eyes” and “The Omen” got dusted off to various success.
While “Scream 4” is technically a sequel, it’s been so long that Craven has included familiar tropes from the first films: the girls watching TV by themselves, the mysterious phone calls, the relentless bait-and-switch of the killer’s identity. Not one for sticking to formula, Craven’s simply trying to remind everyone why they loved the original “Scream” movies in the first place.
A Turn Towards The Gruesome
Two of the most popular original franchises in the new millennium, “Saw” and “Hostel,” drew thousands of viewers with shocking visuals that seemed to spring from one concept: think of the grossest thing you can, and make it grosser. While I’m far from queasy, I had to shut off “Saw VI” after a few minutes of watching its actors cut off their fat and limbs: it seemed to be violence devoid of purpose.
Craven, on the other hand, has come a long way from his origins as a shock director. As the “Scream” franchise proved, he’d grown bored with the accepted values within the horror genre — so if the blood is poured by the gallon in “Scream 4,” it’ll be because Craven knows such a thing isn’t as provocative as it used to be.
The most unexpected horror movie of the last few years was one that completely broke away from typical narrative convention: 2009’s “Paranormal Activity,” which was presented as “found footage” of a demonic possession gone horribly wrong.
While movies like “Cannibal Holocaust” and “The Blair Witch Project” previously played with the found footage format, “Paranormal Activity” sparked a rebirth in the genre, as audiences flocked to films like “[REC],” “Quarantine,” and “The Last Exorcism.” As “Scream” was a commentary on the trends of the time, it would be nice to see “Scream 4” make a play on this — maybe a webcam capturing Ghostface tracking his victims?
How do you think “Scream 4” will reflect the horror trends of the past decade? Give us your feedback and predictions in the comments section and on Twitter!