Everybody is a Suspect: Three New Rules For SCREAM, TRAGEDY GIRLS, SAW X, And More
In this Issue:
- Horror History: Everybody is a Suspect: Three New Rules For Scream
- Image of the Week: Rest in Peace: Enzo Sciotti
- Tiny Bites – This Week’s Best Horror Headlines
- Things We Love: The Ghosts from Host
- Hey, That’s Us! – Shudder in the News
Everybody is a Suspect: Three New Rules For Scream
By Matt Donato
So you’ve survived four entries into a horror franchise that’s still grinding its gears based on box office profitability and nostalgia hounds who cackle-clap whenever they see a familiar title card with a higher number. Congratulations! Thanks for proving that Laurie Strode isn’t Haddonfield’s iconic fluke, but now face your most unpredictable obstacle yet—a fivequel. The Killer Cinco. Fivequel Goes West. The powers that be won’t allow Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash, yet here you are waltzing onto the battlefield again like you’re hotter than Danielle Harris. I mean, you’ve seen Alien³ and what David Fincher did to poor little Newt alongside hero-boy Hicks. Death comes for all of us: ask Final Destination’s Devon Sawa or Ali Larter.
Through three Woodsboro massacres, Randy Meeks outlined the rules for surviving consecutive horror movies. In a fourth stab-athon, some little AV punks botched the ceremonial meta-duties by not even adhering to listicle format while scoffing at Gale and Sid’s trauma like comment section “purists” did every “gritty” 2000s remake. The formula has already been subverted, tropes thrice revamped, and new generations even resurrected old ghosts with upgraded technology—how can writers, villains, and producers justify a landmark fifth installation? Judging by historical horror data, the answer isn’t dependable.
Jason was exhausted after Friday the 13th’s quadrilogy and sat out A New Beginning. Freddy became a sicko babysitter in The Dream Child. Chucky became a father and cranked it to a FANGORIA magazine issue. The consensus around successfully delivering a fifth franchise entry is to follow Mad Libs blueprints and swing harder than Jose Canseco. Chances are you’re not drawing new audiences in and existing viewers have seen it all.
That said, you have the master of ceremonies back in charge now. Those headcam wannabes botched Randy’s ticket-tearer “charm” almost a decade ago, which I’m not letting happen this time around. In the snickery-sneery-smart vein of Randy Meeks, allow me to impart three more golden rules—this time for surviving a slasher flick for the fifth freakin’ attempt.
1. Everyone is fair game—alive or dead.
Why classify between the living and deceased? Narratives are grasping at chewed-flat straws by now and the almighty dollar dictates what happens next. Maybe that means a nasty shakeup by way of any beloved lucky-duck still breathing finally meeting the sharpened edge of a hunting knife. Perhaps an affable doofus lawman who already cheated increasingly gruesome faux-fatalities too many times? Or the return of an undersung angel long thought deceased? It’s not like we saw the wisecracking video store clerk definitively die—a lot of things look like blood dripping onto pavement.
2. The craziest option is probably correct.
A sole permeating truth throughout 99% of fifth franchise entries is the promise that writers will abandon any sense of rationale to keep audiences munching popcorn. Everything you know is wrong. We’re not talking “Jason morphs into a wriggly insectoid demon” quite yet, but forget what Randy jabbered about any previous rules. Is it “Jennifer Tilly voices a Martha Stewart-obsessed psycho doll starstruck by a self-humorous portrayal of herself” level crazy? Then yeah, that’s a bingo.
I dare suggest the fifth’s title—simply Scream—is trying to tease its intentions more than we’re willing to admit (why use Scream unless you’re playing into reboot culture, Scream 4 already did remakes). Scream is the first entry without Wes Craven or Kevin Williamson’s direct involvement—the perfect opportunity for new creative visions to rewrite everything we know about Scream with a fresh “interpretation”, so to speak. A fifth installment presents itself like a blank check. Experiment, break the bank, and maybe even produce something bizarrely iconic—at worst underground worshipped—in the process?
3. Make peace with all good things coming to an end.
Saying goodbye is hard, but studios know properties have a shelf life—typically more extended than the characters within. As actors move onward or screenplays explore different directions, familiar faces can vanish with the swing of an axe. Just hope whichever character you hold close enough to commission a memorial tattoo gets a fitting outro, whether that’s a changing-of-the-guard sendoff or one last martyr’s act to close the first of many chapters still unwritten.
So what’ll it be this time—another unannounced, estranged relative of Sid’s descends upon Woodsboro under black cloak and disfigured white mask? Ghostface with a makeover? Sid snaps and starts hacking through innocent Woodsboro natives? All I know is you should expect the unexpected unless the unexpected is precisely what you should expect. Maybe even Old Man Randy appears with a scar and one last wisdom nugget? We’ll call it even for not allowing another recorded Randyism contribution to further the Meeks legacy in Scream 4.
Matt Donato is a freelance writer who stays up too late typing words for such outlets such as /Film, Collider, Bloody Disgusting, and What To Watch. You can follow his work on Twitter, Instagram, and Letterboxd at @DonatoBomb.
IMAGE OF THE WEEK
Rest in Peace: Enzo Sciotti
We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of artist Enzo Sciotti, whose posters for films like Evil Dead 2, The Beyond, Demons, Phenomena, and more, were the stuff of beautiful nightmares.
TRAGEDY GIRLS, SAW X, AND MORE
Certified Forgotten takes a look back at the 2017 horror/comedy Tragedy Girls.
The Austrian horror film Goodnight Mommy is getting a remake and Naomi Watts is all aboard.
EW sat down with genre legend Barbara Crampton to discuss her latest role in Jakob’s Wife.
We’ve all heard how queer Freddy’s Revenge is but Hannibal showrunner Bryan Fuller makes the case that the crown actually belongs to Dream Warriors.
Spiral: From The Book of Saw isn’t even out yet and a tenth entry is already getting some serious attention.
The film adaptation of Grady Hendrix’s novel My Best Friend’s Exorcism has announced its cast.
Our hearts are heavy with the news that SFX legend Giannetto De Rossi has passed away. His work on Zombi 2, The Beyond, The House by the Cemetery, and more, shocked and delighted horror fans.
Two friends with Down Syndrome made and released a horror movie back in 2016. Now, a new documentary chronicles their story.
The world famous Bearded Lady’s Mystic Museum in Burbank, CA has reopened its doors, including the return of the Slashback Video art installation.
Daily Dead takes a bite out of Jeff Barnaby’s indigenous zombie filmBlood Quantum.
Celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Howling with this piece from The Guardian.
We believe in healthy discussions, especially when it comes to Alien and whether it’s horror or sci-fi.
THINGS WE LOVE
The Ghosts from Host
The team behind 2020’s hit horror film Host are back…kinda. Writer/producer Jed Shepherd along with stars Emma Louise Webb, Haley Bishop, Jemma Moore, Radina Drandova and Caroline Ward are creating Ghosts, a FMV video game with practical creature FX. Learn more on their Kickstarter.