Directed by Master of Horror Wes Craven, Scream 4 is the latest installment in the (potentially growing) Scream series of flicks which not only reunited the director with the franchise’s original trio of survivors (Neve Campbell, David Arquette and Courteney Cox) but also allowed the veteran director an opportunity to collaborate with a new generation of genre stars (Emma Roberts, Hayden Paniettere, Rory Culkin, Alison Brie, Erik Knudsen) as well.
Released in theaters this past April, the latest sequel featured “final girl” Sidney Prescott (Campbell) returning to her hometown of Woodsboro on the eve of the anniversary of the original “Woodsboro Massacre” – also known as the plot of 1996’s Scream – for a book signing after her biography becomes a hit with readers everywhere. Always a victim of bad timing, Sidney’s unaware when she arrives in town that a new Ghostface is on the loose; not only is this killer looking to remake the events of the original “Woodsboro Massacre”, but he or she plans to rewrite the ending, and this time everyone (including Sidney) must die.
Once Sidney’s reunited with Dewey (Arquette) and Gale (Cox), it’s up to the trio to figure out who’s taken on the Ghostface persona this time around before Sidney and everyone she loves ends up a victim of the brutal knife-wielding killer.
Dread Central recently caught up with Craven for an exclusive chat regarding the upcoming Blu-ray release of Scream 4 (Blu-ray/DVD review here), his thoughts on the sequences removed from the final cut of the flick as well as if he’s heard anything on whether or not we can expect to see Ghostface ever again (and more importantly, would Craven consider returning to direct Scream 5?).
With a running time of 111 minutes, it may or may not come as a surprise to many that when production first began on Scream 4 in mid-2010, Craven was originally shooting from an astonishing 140-page long script. Throughout the editing process Craven began realizing more and more that if they used everything he’d shot for the flick, he’d end up with a movie that clocked in around three hours.
Knowing there’s no way he could release Scream 4 at anywhere near that kind of running time, the director knew cuts had to be made; most he was accepting of, but there’s one in particular he wished had made it into the final cut of the latest sequel.
Craven walked us through what the editing process was like on Scream 4 and why some of the editing decisions were made, often resulting in the removal of some character development related moments for key cast members. “What we had for Scream 4 was a script that was too long so when we shot everything, there was a lot we had in there; and while it was all mostly wonderful stuff, it really slowed down the pace of the story overall. Also, sometimes things would just come across repetitive, especially in the case of Trevor (Jill’s ex). His dialogue ended up being him saying the same things over and over so we cut a lot of those scenes out. Thankfully, most of his third act stuff stayed intact, and that’s when Nico (actor Tortorella) really shined anyway so I think in that case it worked out for the best in the end.”
“But overall things just weren’t happening fast enough. We had a lot of scenes in the hospital – too many I think – and we spent a lot of time at Sidney’s Aunt Kate’s house, too, which also slowed the pace down. So a lot of stuff got left on the cutting room floor- especially the stuff at Kate’s house, but I’m okay with those cuts because they served the final movie. However, there was one shot in particular that I did not agree with cutting, and Bob said it had to be cut. There was a sequence that we shot with the crime scene involving the first two victims of the movie and how their bodies were placed to resemble the crime scenes from Casey and Steve’s death that opened the original Scream.”
“Actually, the fact that the killer was patterning themselves after the deaths in the original Scream was a huge theme in the original drafts of the Scream 4 script that got minimalized throughout the editing process of the movie. I guess that would be the one thing I would have liked to see featured more, but in the long run I’m very happy with how Scream 4 came out,” added Craven.
Minor creative differences aside, if there’s one thing Craven is certain about, it’s that the Scream franchise is unlike most other genre series out there when you take into consideration the fact that the director has always returned to helm the sequels (something unheard of within the genre) and that the series still continues to follow three of the original survivors from 1996’s Scream (also something else unheard of in horror movies). He spoke about why he thinks these movies stand out against other horror franchises and what keeps bringing him back every time.
Craven explained, “I think a lot of people forget sometimes that the Scream movies aren’t your average slasher films; they’re really murder mysteries wrapped up inside a horror movie so we always have a little more to accomplish in our stories than the usual horror movie formula. These aren’t the standard ‘killer stalks down random pretty girls in the woods and hacks them to death while we all cheer’ movies; they’re a beast of a different nature altogether, and that starts with the original. That movie was a response to the horror genre at that time, and the sequels had their own messages, too. With Scream 4 not only is this one a sequel, but it also has the Ghostface killer ‘remaking’ the original movie, and that’s something you don’t see every day in horror movies.”
“See, I absolutely love the unique nature of this series so I think that’s what brings me back- that and if the idea is good, too, because I have to believe in the idea to want to direct. But it’s incredibly rare to have a director at the helm for every film in the series so I do feel lucky that I’ve not only been involved with all of these films personally but that I’ve gotten to do it alongside Neve, David and Courteney the entire time. Everyone always asks me each time we start one of these movies if I’m going to kill off one of the ‘main three’, but I always hesitate because they’re the heart of the franchise. Especially Neve- rarely do you see a character grow as much as you do with Sidney through all four of these films. Actually, Courteney was begging me to kill Gale in Scream 4, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, and I don’t know if I ever will either,” added Craven.
With Scream 4 hitting DVD and Blu-ray shelves on October 4th, we asked Craven if he’s heard about any forward movement on the Scream 5 front. “I know everyone’s been speculating, even back in April, but I would say that most likely there will be a Scream 5. Now, will I be directing? I’m not sure- as I mentioned, for me the story has to be there, and if it’s not there, then I don’t know if I’d come back, but I know it is something that Bob Weinstein wants to do. Fans will just have to wait and see what happens.”
Special thanks to Wes Craven for taking the time to speak with Dread Central!
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