Wes Craven's Scream franchise hits the app age

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      LOS ANGELES—Wes Craven winces a little when he hears himself described, at a hotel news conference for Scream 4, as a “master of horror”. But isn’t that precisely what he is? Surely they can’t strip the title from the man who gave us Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Scream, can they?

      “Oh, yes they can,” the veteran filmmaker retorts. “Did you read the reviews for my last movie?”

      Okay, 2010’s My Soul to Take brought Craven his worst notices and saddest box-office returns since Cursed in 2005, or 1986’s woeful Deadly Friend. But you don’t last for 40 years in Hollywood without making a lot of other people rich along the way. So it’s shocking to hear Craven half-jokingly mutter that Scream 4—which opens on Friday (April 15)—might “save my career”.

      Not that it was his sole motive for taking the massively successful franchise out of retirement after an 11-year break. “Part of the good things about doing this film was getting back together with old friends,” he says, pointing to the stars—Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette—who flank the Master of Horror at the news-conference table.

      But there are other reasons to pit Campbell’s character, Sidney Prescott, against the iconic Ghostface for a fourth time.

      “He [executive producer Bob Weinstein] originally told us, I think after Scream 3, that there were not going to be any more for a long time,” Craven explains, “and that he didn’t want to feel like we were just knocking them out to make money. And, of course, there was the Scary Movie series, so we needed to get some distance from that. But I think at the end of the decade, there was a feeling like it was the perfect time to turn around and look at the first decade of the 21st century, and it was quite distinctive from others. Nine-11, that’s sort of hovering over things, and certainly the presence of electronic media being brought down to the level where everybody is online, everybody’s on Facebook, people are tweeting people all over the world, all the time—that’s totally different. So it was time to kind of take that into account.”

      Naturally, Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson are still playing hardball with genre conventions, and he notes that “if they [audiences] think they know what the rules are, we immediately say, ”˜No, you don’t.’ ” But the “rebooted” slasher film gives its killer a whole new playground for mayhem inside the wireless world of telecom and social media while also floating a sly critique on the nature of fame and America’s slide into amorality. When Sidney returns to Woodsboro after a decade, she finds a town that treats Ghostface like a celebrity. When the killing starts again, matters are confused by the fact that a lot of people are running around with a Ghostface voice app on their phones.

      Craven’s grasp on what he calls “all this newness” comes from being hands-on. “I think old fogies like myself and, to a lesser extent, Kevin, use all of those things now, like it or not. Once you start using them, you have to think of the possibilities of how they can be misused, too.”

      Cox, meanwhile, praises her director for being on top of new media. “He stays so current on everything,” she says. “Like, I don’t even know what a MySpace is, but he’s watching things and learning; he’s constantly bettering himself, and his mind—I dunno, he’s amazing.”

      Craven shrugs at the comment, adding the slightly crotchety note you might expect from a 71-year-old man who just finished violently offing a bunch of kids for the fourth time. “If you’ve been in a theatre, today, people are texting all around you,” he says with a sigh. “You have the little glowing screens everywhere. That’s just one example of how kind of annoying it can be.”

      Watch the trailer for Scream 4.




      Apr 14, 2011 at 9:42am

      this one was the best ever!