This morning, cameras rolled on "Scream 4," with Wes Craven once again directing from a script by Kevin Williamson.
From 1996 to 2000, the first "Scream" films helped define horror at a time when it was at a commercial low. By paying homage to the slasher films of the '80s and then investing them with a decidedly '90s feel, Williamson and Craven managed to bring the entire genre roaring back to life in terms of box-office. Williamson's influence on the teen genre basically created an entire market, beyond horror even, but "Scream" was ground zero for that.
It is not uncommon for a film to become a phenomenon based on one great idea or one great scene or one great action gag, and in the case of "Scream," it's all about that opening scene. The winky knowing dialogue, the deconstruction of the genre, the idea of killing Barrymore early... it sent shock waves through its audience. I'm not saying that's the only thing people liked about the film, but after that opening, there was so much good will built up that the audience would have gone almost anywhere with Craven and Williamson.
I can't really call myself a fan of the series. I admire the commercial machinery of the first film, but I didn't buy it. I respect that there is an audience that used "Scream" as a gateway to horror, that suddenly had an appetite for being scared in the theater. I think a lot of truly terrible films were made in the wake of "Scream," including the "Scream" sequels. But there have been a lot of kinks and twists in horror since 2000, and obviously the remake frenzy has set in. Even if I don't love "Scream," I love that it was an original film that was Williamson's way of nodding to films he loved rather than just straight-up remaking them.