At the MTV Movie Awards on April 12th, 2015, a trailer for the upcoming television adaptation of Wes Craven’s SCREAM franchise was released. The series itself will premiere on Tuesday June 30th, 2015. Normally we like to keep the focus on movies here at The Movie Chickk, but seeing as how this is an adaptation of one of my favorite film series of all time, I feel compelled to give my two cents on the matter.
The trailer, for lack of a better way of describing it, looks like it does nothing to convince skeptical fans of the series that it keeps to the spirit of the films. The reason the SCREAM series was so refreshing is that it deconstructed horror films in a comedic style that still managed to show great reverence for the genre as a whole. There had been meta horror movies prior to SCREAM’s release, but none had been as enjoyably (and intentionally) funny while also still having moments that genuinely terrified audiences. It was a horror comedy that revitalized the horror genre for a time and made the slasher movie cool again in a way that it hadn’t been since the early 80s. Each entry in the series managed to make some form of commentary on the horror genre and on films in general; SCREAM 2 was able to poke fun at sequels while still being a good continuation of Sidney Prescott’s story; SCREAM 3 (though generally regarded as the worst in the series) pointed out the trends and foibles found in horror trilogies; and finally SCREAM 4 made it clear that endless sequels, and reboots in particular, haven’t done anything to enhance the genre as a whole while still being fully aware that it’s the fourth entry in a series.
But most importantly, the heart of each film is that it’s Sidney Prescott’s story. No matter who takes up the mantel of Ghostface, Sindey (played by Neve Campbell) is always able to overcome them because ultimately she is the star of the film. No matter how many times Ghostface claims that it’s his or her movie, they can never take Sidney’s place in the spotlight, and that’s always their undoing. Much to the chagrin of fans, for a story that has for so long focused on Sidney’s journey to overcome these foes and her own inner demons, this new television series now appears to have nothing to do with Sidney Prescott. There’s nothing in the trailer to indicate that the show will in any way tie back to any of the previous films, or even take place in Woodsboro, the central location for three out of the four films.
One of the central aspects of the series is its meta commentary on the genre. To this trailer’s credit, there is a meta comment about how “You can’t turn a slasher movie into a TV series” and sure enough there are a few shots of a teen holding a camera and of people texting and using webcams, which could all potentially fit into the SCREAM style of storytelling. While this is an attempt to put the series on the right track, ultimately nothing unique about those devices is being shown here. When SCREAM first came out, cell phones were a big deal, but nowadays it’s standard for not only horror films, but for films in general to incorporate these elements. Simply putting them in a trailer does very little to brand this television show as a part of the SCREAM franchise because these shots could be from literally any modern horror film.
This brings me to Ghostface himself. One of the biggest grievances this trailer has shown us is that the iconic mask that Ghostface has been known for nearly twenty years has been altered to what appears to be dark and gritty makeup.
This new mask looks more akin to something you would see in the TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE series rather than the SCREAM series. Also egregiously absent is Roger Jackson’s voice work. There is a voiceover in this trailer, but it comes from our supposedly genre-savvy character (akin to Randy in the original trilogy) rather than Ghostface himself. Apart from Ghostface’s appearance, Roger Jackson’s voice work for the role is equally iconic, as it’s been one of the constants throughout each film. In each iteration of the series, the killer always uses a voice modulator when contacting people over the phone. Anyone can wear the mask, but without Jackson’s voice, you simply cannot have Ghostface.
There is nothing wrong with creating new interpretations of existing work, and in theory there is nothing wrong with a little rebranding to expand the story to find new ways of commenting on the art of film, especially in a way that discusses how advances in technology are changing the art form as a whole. It is entirely possible that this series will touch on all of these things, even without pivotal characters and cast members. However, there is very little in this trailer that genuinely feels like SCREAM, and therein lies the problem. If MTV wants to make a horror series, I’m all in favor of that, especially with other upcoming horror televisions shows like SCREAM QUEENS and ASH VS. THE EVIL DEAD coming out later this year. But if you’re branding your series with the SCREAM name, it’s important to know just why people love the series in the first place. If you don’t, all you’ll do is turn the series into what it always made fun of in the first place: an overly clichéd mess that doesn’t scare anyone.
What did you think of the trailer? Do you agree with my critique or are you excited for this new interpretation?Be sure to let us know @TheMovieChickk!
~ Megan Salinas
Follow me on Twitter at: @themenguin