August 22, 2010

Hopes Dim for "Scream 4"

It's difficult to have high hopes for any Part 4 of a film series, because, after three sequels, its safe to say the best is in the past, but I did have faint hope for the fourth Scream film.  The newest installment, which will arrive eleven years after the last effort, which was rather underwhelming and didn't feature the writing of series creator Kevin Willimason, had the original creative team re-assembled and the remaining (meaning living) cast members also on board.   Williamson was hired to not only write Scream 4, but also spoke up a whole new trilogy and veteran genre director Wes Craven, who helmed the first three movies was back in the director's chair.   Williamson was active on his twitter account while the developing the new film and when Neve Campbell, the star of the original trilogy officially signed on for the fourth installment it seemed they might have a chance to make a cool new Scream movie.   As the film neared production, casting details began to surface and the movie landed Hayden Panettiere, Rory Culkin, Adam Brody and Alison Brie joining the returning Courtney Cox, David Arquette and, of course, Neve Campbell.   This was all good.  Then the film went into production.

Shortly after they started rolling cameras, actresses Lauren Graham and Lake Bell left the project for undisclosed reasons and rumors quickly began to circulate that Williamson, who created the series and wrote the script for Part 4 after sitting out the last (lousy) sequel was bounced from the project and replaced by - wait for it - the screenwriter from the last (lousy) sequel.   The fact that screenwriters are even being hired and fired while a project is shooting is not a good sign.  Generally, it's a pretty good idea to have the script completed well before you begin shooting, but to not only require a scribe on set, let alone having to fire one and bring in a totally different person to tweak and re-write while the film is before cameras is a recipe for disaster.  Kruger's changes led to Graham's departure and whispers other cast members weren't pleased with how things had been "dumbed down" in the new draft. Things got so dicey last month Craven even took to his twitter account on July 2nd to address rumors of unrest on the set and the hiring of writer Ehren Kruger (the scripter of Scream 3) said "I have not been given control of the script."  So Craven is directing a film with a screenplay in a state of flux; the original scribe is gone, a new writer is on board, and the director doesn't have control of the story he is supposed to be telling.   This really doesn't sound good.  So with Kruger now hired to polish or possibly revamp the Scream 4 script, what kind of changes will he make?  Rumors last week suggested that some of his tweaks might be more dramatic then merely a dialouge polish.  When Campbell joined the cast, Williamson was asked if any other cast members from the previous entries would return and his response was this: "No. We're not that movie.  "We're not that universe where you can bring people back from the dead.  That would be just a cheat.  It's such a disservice.  It's a false move.  So I just won't do it.  I can't do that.  I just won't do it."  It was suggested at Bloody (my pick for the best source for anything horror) that Matthew Lillard (who played one of Campbell's two tormenters in the first film before being murdered by her in the climax was  set to return in Part 4 (despite, you know, being dead) because he was spotted dining with Campbell in Ann Arbor Michigan... where Scream 4 is lensing.   Turns out, Lillard is shooting another movie in nearby Milford, Michigan (who knew Michigan was such a production hotbed) and was just visiting his old cast mate (confirmed on his twitter.)   So we know what they're not doing, what's unclear is what they are doing, but all signs point to this being a bit of a mess.

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