Thursday, April 14, 2011


My friends.

Have you seen this nonsense?

Scream is one of my favorite movies, so I'm pretty excited about Scream 4, or, in the grand history of giving ridiculously punny titles to sequels, Scre4m.

But this is not good. Not good at all.

I wasn't really alive and/or old enough to watch movies when Scream came out, and I've gotta be honest, I haven't seen the two sequels preceding this one. I think, however, I have approximately the same love for slasher movies as somebody who went through the eighties, where slashers were a much larger staple of pop culture, so I get Scream. All of it. I get all the references to earlier films, I get how amazingly brilliant Wes Craven is to be able to essentially stare into a mirror with this movie and laugh at himself. And I get that slasher movies were at a point that, well...they needed to be addressed. I've talked about satire before, and how once a genre can have that much self-recognition...well, that's just awesome. And Scream is the perfect example of good satire--as opposed to Scary Movie, which was made by comedians, Scream was a movie making fun of horror movies by the veritable duke of slasherdom.

And even as those VHS's of the movie unwound more and more jokes and self-mockery, they also addressed some of the moral issues with horror film--and whether or not watching slasher movies makes people into serial killers, the lessons they potentially teach, the carelessness of the characters, etc.

It was the wicked awesome hat on the fantastic body of slasher film that was the created in the 1980's.
If you want to get technical, it was this hat. For obvious reasons 
But I'm really not sure about this Scre4m business. I don't know if it is the right time.

It's been eleven years since the last Scream franchise film. That last film, titled simply Scream 3, (aw, come on, not Scr3am?) made as much money as the first film (about 161,000,000,) but had almost three times the budget, and was only four years away from the first film, meaning it could still succeed only on the momentum of it's predecessor.

Obviously, this isn't really the case anymore. The audience for slasher movies is today, as it has always been, teenagers--and, as a teenager, I can say that Scream wasn't a huge part of my childhood, since I was three years old when it was released. If I wasn't into slasher movies as much as I am, I'm not sure I ever would have watched it.

So that's one big issue--audience. The people who liked slasher movies when Scream came out--ie, the people who were teens in 1996--are now in their thirties. With children. And stuff to do. The people who liked original slashers when they were teenagers, and therefore could understand Scream when it came out for it's brilliant satire, are now in their mid to late forties. Teenagers now were toddlers or zygotes when the original came out. Who exactly are they thinking is going to watch this film?

Well, apparently, they think they're going to get the current teenagers, because they're marketing it like they would market any other slasher film today. And to be fair, a good chunk of the slasher movies recently have been remakes, and there have been quite a few remakes in my teenagerdom--Rob Zombie's Halloween came out when I started high school, and since then we've gotten remakes of Friday the Thirteenth and Nightmare on Elm Street--in correct chronological order, even. I suppose it is part of the natural order of things for a Scream remake/sequel to come out.

I think they're marketing it all wrong, though. Again, I haven't seen two and three, but I believe that the tone of  the first one is meant to be relatively lighthearted. And, like so many slasher movies of the millennium, this one is, at least visually, very very dark. The original is witty and self aware, this one seems to be taking itself very seriously. The first one banks on a cultural knowledge of slasher movies as a staple of film...and do we have that any more?

The thing is, the first glimpse of slasher movie culture and structure that most of the kids in my generation get is Scary Movie, which is parodying scream--which is a parody. Could you possibly be less classy? I can't even imagine the confusion that seeing this movie would cause for someone who has seen Scary Movie but hasn't seen Scream--probably most of their key demographic, my peers.

That is the most important question in whether or not this movie will succeed as anything other than a cult hit. Does my generation have the correct understanding of slashers to "get" this movie? Does this movie simply assume that they don't, and as a result have decided to turn this into a film that takes itself seriously, with the only satire left having the killer constantly ask, "What's your favorite scary movie?" and turn his murders into a game, which is actually a horrible premise if it isn't in context? Can the Ghostface killer stand, ungrounded, with no basis in actual knowledge of slasher lore like the original killers had, but only knowledge of the mythos in the movie based on the original lore?

Let me clarify what I mean with this infographic.

Good luck with this one, Wes Craven. You have gotten yourself into quite a bind. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm very glad that you included the infographic. I was lost without it.