We’re well past the point of horror remakes and reboots being inherently bad. From David Gordon Green’s take on Halloween last year to the upcoming Invisible Man remake that looks … extraordinarily good, horror producers have learned over the last few years that while IP is an easy way to cash in on a quick payday, that payday will be far greater if the product they make with it is, you know, good.
It’s why when Elijah Wood’s SpectreVision production house recently expressed interest in rebooting A Nightmare on Elm Street it seemed like an all-around good call. SpectreVision is responsible for a number of the best horror movies of the last few years, including the transcendent Mandy and this year’s indie juggernaut Daniel Isn’t Real. And the original Freddy Krueger, Robert Englund, has expressed interested in giving the role another go.
So when it was announced this week that Spyglass Media Group would be looking to bring Scream back to the big screen, it would seem there’s no reason to be inherently skeptical, right? Wrong, and for a number of reasons. This particular effort to revamp Scream already feels doomed.
Spyglass is a problem
The Scream movies are funny. This is pretty much undeniable. Part of what makes them feel so revelatory even decades after their original release is how effortlessly they blend humor and horror. The transitions between the two are seamless.
Because of this, it might initially seem like Spyglass is a great home for the franchise. They’ve produced plenty of hit comedies over the course of their time in business from Bruce Almighty to Get Him To the Greek. However, they’re almost entirely inexperienced when it comes to horror.
This is an issue. The Scream franchise may be funny, but it’s always been a horror saga first and foremost. Spyglass has little experience operating within the genre and with so many horror juggernauts operating today, it’s hard to wish this project wasn’t being developed with Blumhouse or Annapurna instead.
No Kevin Williamson
Look, Wes Craven’s passing doesn’t mean nobody can touch the Scream franchise ever again. As long as the Craven family approves of what’s being done, nobody is in any position to say it shouldn’t be made.
But Craven isn’t the only creative mind who contributed significantly to what made the original films so great, and one of those other artists is still very much alive and actively working. As of right now, screenwriter Kevin Williamson is not attached to this Spyglass revamp of Scream. That’s about as big a red flag as you’re likely to get with a Scream movie.
The original film boasts one of the all-time great horror screenplays, with Williamson’s deft structure and snappy dialogue contributing massively to its appeal. Craven may be responsible for bringing everything together, but Williamson’s work as a writer is undeniable in laying out why the franchise works. A movie developed without his involvement won’t be a Scream movie at all.
The timing isn’t right
Here’s the thing: Horror movies are pretty dang good these days. The genre is experiencing a real creative and financial boom. As such, it’s the worst possible time for a Scream movie.
Scream movies have always arrived during creative lulls in the horror world. From the late nineties to the early 2010s, they’ve been at their best when they can take a look at the state of horror and pinpoint just what’s wrong with it. It’s what has made these movies resonant cultural touchstones in the first place.
There’s no need for a Scream movie right now. What’s it going to do, poke fun at arthouse horror? Talk about how slasher reboots should be… worse? There’s so little to criticize with the state of modern horror that making a Scream film now feels like a waste. Timing is everything with these movies and right now it’s all wrong.
There’s no telling how the development of this film will play out. It could lead to a good movie, a bad movie, or no movie at all. But one thing is certain: right now, in this moment and in its current state, a new Scream movie is a bad idea. Hopefully, Spyglass will find a way to prove me wrong.