Wes Craven on the Exhausting Scream 4 and Possibility of Scream 5

wescraven300.jpgAfter 40 years in the horror movie business, Wes Craven has almost certainly seen it all. What's more, he's practically done it all -- whether confronting taboos with aplomb and with a social conscience (Last House on the Left), creating one of the most memorable monsters of all time (Nightmare on Elm Street), or turning the horror genre in on itself (Scream). But after this week's Scream 4, a sequel-skewering sequel notoriously hampered by production woes and Craven's own public airing of grievances over a lack of script control, will the veteran filmmaker finally be ready to throw in the towel on this particular series?

Not a chance. Craven admits to being exhausted after the battle-ridden experience of taking Scream 4 to the big screen (read S.T. VanAirsdale's review here) but is already talking about a Scream 5, albeit in wide brush strokes. Given the surprising-yet-fitting ways in which Scream 4 ups the ante -- in typical murder-mystery fashion, with original final girl Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) returning home to battle Ghostface yet again, a gang of series veterans (David Arquette, Courteney Cox) and new teen meat (Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Nico Tortorella, Erik Knudsen, Rory Culkin) by her side -- it's hard to predict where the next film(s) can even go.

But after rest ("I'm going to go someplace and sleep for six weeks") will come new ideas, whether for more Scream films or, perhaps, non-horror projects. There's no use in making more sequels unless you find a way to top the last one, says Craven, "and if you can't do that, then you should retire."

Looking back on your Scream 4 experience, what was most at stake for you as a filmmaker, returning to this franchise?

I think, and this wasn't a fear factor or anything like that but it was something we were distinctly alerted to, was that we wanted to make the film as original and of as high a quality as possible. Not just be repeating the past, or doing it just because we could. We were excited about the script -- we thought the basic concept was really great. The cast we assembled was wonderful and with the veterans coming back, that added something wonderful to it. So it was, you know, taking time to get it right in all instances and directing my head off.

And how do you do that?

I don't know how to describe what I do -- people ask me, "What do you do when you direct?" and I have no idea. [Laughs] The actors seem to like it. It's everything from encouragement to ideas, to "Try this line" to God knows what else. Basically, I think one of the things is you need to try to make everybody feel safe so they can really open up and produce all of these extraordinary emotions that they have to.

The Scream films have always been uniquely genre-aware, but Scream 4 takes the meta element to new levels. How do you approach -- and justify, even -- making a horror sequel that is itself poking fun at horror sequels?

Why not? [Laughs] I think it's all part of another aspect of it, and we didn't want to leave ourselves out when we were poking fun at things. Certainly, my remakes are in there with everybody else's. [Pauses] I think that's part of the charm of Scream, in a way -- it doesn't take itself absolutely seriously, and the fact is we would make fun of ourselves... it's kind of an honest look, and sometimes funny, but sometimes very acute about the way things are in American genre film right now.

Where do you see horror going next? Trends change constantly, new countries breed their own cinematic movements, new gimmicks pop up and are almost immediately exhausted.

Yeah -- it's a river, it's not a pond, that's for sure. It's always moving, never quite staying in the same place twice. I think it's more just keeping our eyes and ears to the ground about what's going on, keeping our fingers on the pulse and all those clichés. [Screenwriter Kevin Williamson] is very, very good at that; he works with a lot of young people, and I work with a lot of young people, so we just kind of watch what's happening and base our stories on the significance of things that are going down, both in the community of young people and also in the world itself. Computers, or phones that can do sixteen things at the same time, or social networks -- these things are here, they're enormously influential, they give great opportunity for both good and evil, and it's almost impossible to do a film about kids without going to this meta aspect of things, now.

As a viewer, are there trends in horror that you think have been done to death and should be retired?

Well, I think we did that, in a sense. Staying out of it for ten years, we let a lot happen -- not that we allow anything to happen, but it gave us enough time to be able to take an overview of a full decade. But, you know, if there's a Scream 5 we will be immediately faced with the challenge of making it fresh and trying to invent where horror goes -- at least, our part of it. For right now, I think we feel like we kind of defined where the Scream horror film is by making it.

Considering where you go in Scream 4, it seems exhaustive to even begin thinking of a way to top it in Scream 5. Doesn't continuing this particular series mean the bar must be set higher and higher for any future sequels?

Yeah, it does! [Laughs] But in a way that's the great thing about it. It keeps you from being lazy because you set the bar so high that the next time you have to jump the bar up a notch. And if you can't do that, then you should retire. But now that we've finished this film -- or virtually finished it, we've certainly delivered the print and all that -- there is an exhaustion. I know I'm going to go someplace and sleep for six weeks. And I can't imagine going out and doing it again now, when every muscle in my body is aching from the physical exertion and lack of sleep for a year and a half.

Of course.

But then there comes a point when your body restores itself and your mind restores itself and you start to have ideas, and that's kind of how it goes in art in general, I think. You pour everything you've got into a project, it does take everything that you can possibly give it, and you kind of have to fall back and regroup when it's done. But you have the pleasure of having done something kind of extraordinary, and the body does repair itself. So if that happens we might well be doing a Scream 5 at some point.

Considering the scripting issues that came up on Scream 4, I imagine it will take a fair amount of time for you to develop a Scream 5 script that you're happy with. Do you think any of the possible ideas Kevin lined out for you for Scream 5 and beyond will be what you eventually go with, and how long of a wait do you foresee until the next film comes to fruition?

You know, I honestly have not thought about it. Kevin right now is in the middle of starting a new television show, so now he's got two shows on the air, so my guess is he won't be devoting much time to it until he's completed those seasons. But he'll probably be thinking of it in his idle moments, if he has any. Right now I think everyone's just ecstatic that [Scream 4] is done, that it turned out extremely well and that people seem to like it, and taking a breath. Not thinking, "Oh, what's the next one going to be?" And I know some of the things that Kevin outlined for the trilogy were made impossible by later developments of the script, just didn't make it through. But in general, the basic idea of what he's come up with will survive and be able to be made into something really interesting. It depends, on this case, on Kevin -- or some other writer coming up with an idea. That's not an impossible option, either.

You've explored filmmaking outside of the genre a few times. Once you're done recovering from Scream 4, do you think you'll pursue more non-horror projects? Is that an idea that calls to you?

It does call to me. In some ways, My Soul to Take was stretching the genre in a way that, to me, was very interesting. Obviously that film didn't do nearly as well as I thought it would; we took some big risks, and maybe it will take a while for the audience to catch up with that particular film. But we're already getting scripts that are much farther from the genre that you would call a slasher film. Straight drama and things of that sort. So we'll be sorting through all of that stuff. I think at this point I've been directing long enough and have enough examples of things outside of the genre out there that people are intrigued by the idea. There is always the problem of an audience not wanting to go see a Wes Craven film [in another genre]. They might think that the other film was going to be bad. But I did feel this message was out there from various people -- "We'd go see something else that you'd do." So that might be fun to pursue.


  • aaron carter says:

    leave scream where it is at the fourth one it was te best and who could possibly be the killer in the 5 one jill got wouped sydney it was funny leave it at 4

  • katie says:

    i think that there should be a 5 scream. they are my favorite movies !!! everyone i know thinks there should be a 5. it would be crazy not to. dont get me wrong the 4 scream was great along with the othere three, but a 5 scream would be even greater. . . . wonderful !!!! A 5 scream would make me along many other people happy. i love each movie just the same. i am begging for a 5 scream ! so make a 5 scream !!!! . .. . . . please ? 🙂

  • Wes Craven, if your reading this i would love for yu to know that i would like to be in SCREAM 5. im a HUGE fan of the first SCREAM and i just seen SCRE4M friday when it came out, anyways i would be perfect for the film. you can contact me on facebook. i know how to act, everyone tells me that. every time i prank around with someone i knw,they get mad cause they THINK im serious but im just kidding around. but im just letting yu know that im perfect cause i would be perfect fo the film.
    @ facebook.com/quepasathisanthony
    Read more about Wes Craven Discusses Scream 5 and Dispels the Script Trouble Rumors of Scream 4 by http://www.reelzchannel.com

  • Keep dreaming dude

  • Jennifer says:

    I would love it if they made a scream 5, but the original 3 (david,neve and courtney) would have to be in it.. I would not be the same without them. But if you make a scream 5.. it should be the last one... but there should be nothing held back.. anyone can be the killer.. even sydney... she could snap.!

  • casey says:

    Scream 4 was great and if they made a 5 it would have to be really good...Sid could never be the killer she is like the Jamie Lee of Scream and ghost face is her Micheal Myers...so everyone relax...im just happy to see a Scream 4 after 11 years

  • doncal says:

    After reading the original script and getting an idea of the alternate ending i gotta say im actually glad how scream 4 turned outthe first installment was good it set the tone second was good but just kinda felt like it was made to fill a void. The third one really tied everything in have you the reasons behind all the killings and wrapped the trilogy up in a nice way. Going with this script and ending was pretty good i didnt really see sydney returning home and being a school counselor anyway however i did find th whole her cousins the killer thing somewhat expected but was still better then the other ending. They did a great job rebooting the series and doing it some what unique like most franchises reboot a series by remaking the original script they were creative following pieces of the original film with the new plot i loved it.
    As for sydney never being a killer? well remember the tag line on the original poster? "new decade. New rules" so remember anything goes.
    But personally id say if any of themain characters were to be killers id say itd be gale however she didnt agree yet to do a fifth as neve and david have already signed on to it with kevin williamson cobtracted for the fifth and sixth film.
    My only let down with scream 4 is did we all forget dewey had allot of nerve damage walked with a limp and his arm bent not to mention the added injuries from the third film? and how did he manage to walk away with nearly no injuries its fricken dewey hes suppose to be sliced diced and still walking at the end lol also i dont get it whyd theu go and remake the mask? i think they should have kept theboriginal mask. Its a small detail bit look closely youll know the differences as i did

  • Cobie says:

    a double trilogy would be amazing. people love the movies and the characters. why not keep going if it makes people happy.

  • the_kid says:

    i noticed sumthing BIG i thought Rena Renolds changed her name to Morine Roberts?? remember from Scream 3 thats what Roman told Sydney his mother was Rena Renolds but she changed her name to Morine Roberts and Renolds was dead , if this is true how could she have a sister "kate roberts" what she get a name change too??

  • Nolan Emerson says:

    scream 4 was really good the only thing i didnt like about it was that the guy who was one of the killers was sortta to small to kill the people that he did i mean look at billy and stu in the first scream they were alot bigger and so were the rest on the killers. Id love for there 2 b a scream5 common wes everybody wants it

  • Kia says:

    I think it would have been hot if they ended scream 4 with a cliff hanger. They should flashed forward a few years and had Sidney sitting in a Star Bucks waiting on a anonymous date. Have the mystery date walk up behind her and call out her name and when she turns around it's Stew from the first movie. And he sits down and say's "Sid we have to talk". I think the 5th one should be about a copy cat killer who's going around committing murders in different towns. I also think they should make the next one darker and less campy like the very first movie.

  • Josh says:

    If you are reading this, Wes Craven, my name is Josh Begandy and I am such a huge fan of you and the SCREAM movies. I have been watching them since I was 4 years old, I have always been so fascinated with all of your movies but the ones that always stuck out to me were the SCREAM movies. I saw SCRE4M in theaters on opening night with my friend and we loved it. We were in total shock on how the movie ended but it was a great twist. My friend and I couldn't stop talking about SCRE4M and we were wondering if a SCREAM 5 would come out. We were planning on writing you a letter on that. I am filled with so many ideas for SCREAM 5. I actually started creating a front cover for SCREAM 5. Since I was 4 years old, my dream was to become and actor and screenwriter in Hollywood. I participated in school plays through my highschool career, i love acting and thats my dream to become an actor in Hollywood. You are my favorite Director and Kevin Williamson is my favorite screenwriter, i was inspired by your guys work. Back to the ideas for SCREAM 5, I kept thinking back to Sidney's past and I thought to myself, whatever happend to Hank Loomis, Billy Loomis's father? I thought that would'eve been a great twist if he came back and he was the killer since in SCREAM 3 Roman showed Sidney that video footage he filmed of her mom having an affair with Billy's father. It was a great twist that Billy's mother was the killer in the second SCREAM. You would think that Hank Loomis would feel guilty about having the affair with Maureen, since she was killed, you would think he would want to get his revenge on Sidney, I don't know?, that was just an idea. Also, back in SCREAM 3 when they saw the video Randy made when he was leaving his legacy. Randy stated that he gave up his virginity to Karen, a girl who worked at the video store and Randy stated that that wasn't a good idea. Yes, he broke a rule, but what if that Karen girl gave birth to a child, a boy and he grew up to be a teenager or a man well in his early twentys and he heard about these killings and he snaped and became a killer, that was another idea. Lastly, I think we should bring back Sidney's father, something has to happen with him. These aren't all of my ideas i just wanted to share a few. I would love to work with you and do SCREAM 5. I think I am fit for a part, and if you ask I can recite every line from the SCREAM movies I know them by heart. It would be such an honor and priv to work for you. You can contact me at jbegandy407@gmail.com
    and my facebook. http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000130231333
    if that doesn't work just go to http://www.facebook.com/josh begandy

  • Joey says:

    no i think what roman mean't in the third film was when she came to hollywood she has moriane roberts but changed it to rena reynolds as her stage name because not alot of actors use they're real name and she married and it changed to moriane presscott i was a little confused by that to but i think this is what he meant by all that.

  • Steve French says:

    This movie was so much fun and entertaining to watch. I really hope he makes a 5th and 6th. Even if it's with different cast members, I know he'll do a wicked job.

  • Luis says:

    i think they should make a 5CREAM about Neve (Sidney), David(Dewey), and Courteney (Gale) and whoever new kids they want to bring but if they are going to make SCR6AM which is also possible because on http://scream-trilogy.net/scream-5-6/ it says that well anyways SCR6AM SHOULD NOT BE ABOUT SIDNEY maybe about sidney familiars just like Halloween 4,5, and 6
    Jamie Lee (Laurie Strode) its not there but some of her familiars are there getting chased by Michael Myers. Well they should do that if they make SCR6AM familiears of Sidney getting phone calls and getting chased by a phsyco killer.

  • Max says:

    You did awesome at scream we loved it and it was our favorite scary movie and im looking to see scream 4 & 5

  • George Neeley says:

    Katie I agree I love these movies, just watched Scre4m and I enjoyed it well enough, but if Wes is going to make more, I got to say the death scenes could use a little spice up. In 3 you had a building explode for one thing and the ghost face thing has been over used. If you’re going to make another one I would suggest there be a least five killers on a team all loyal to making the fans of the movies pay for encouraging all the old ones from coming out of the wood work. Have them just regular people when they kill and instead of dressing them up in the ghost face mask and cape, they should dress up the people they murder in the ghost face costume. Have more victims at a time. Throw more people off buildings. Blow up theaters of people where their screening the next stab movie. Make the plot so unpredictable that people will line up at the theater and see the movie 5 or six times. If Sydney is the focus of the next movie then make her next book involve this kind of plot and have the killer a fan of her books obsessed with saving her from a repeat killer; in their mind they should be thinking “I’ll discourage the fans by killing them. They’ll never bother Sydney Prescott again after this.” Take a page out of the best crime show on television Criminal Minds. Don't get me wrong I'm not suggesting plagiarism, but rather more reality. Criminal Minds is scary because it's reality fiction. The killer/killers in the next scream movie need to seem more realistic if one really wants’ to make fans scream. Yes that phrase sounds clique being that scream is the title of the movie, but let's face it TV shows like Dexter and Criminal Minds, are scarier than most horror films because the writers try to get into the minds of real life killers and pick apart what makes them tick. I want the next scream movie to make me pee my pants. I think most fans of these movies would agree. I love the way the characters in these movies are the heroes I just want the killers to appear more unstoppable and more unpredictable. Thank you for your time.

  • buddy hons says:

    i loved scream 4!is it true that shannon dohethry is going to be in scream 5?

  • wes craven says:

    guys guys listen... yes shannon dohethry is going to be in scream 5. i am working on scream 5 scripts right now. hope you enjoy scream 5. but the people that are asking to be in scream 5, no! i have a good cast made already. sorry!

  • All I want is a new SCREAM trilogy. Whoever is the new killer, i'll approve to that as long as everything will go smooth in the new possible upcoming movie. But for me, Stu was a pussy-ass wet rag. He can be a great killer to the next sequel. He was just electrified. Kirby is a great suspect for the next chain film, and she will become the heroine to the climax!!! OH!!! love it.... I'm imagining it already... Lois and Murphy can also be great killers to the new sequel. Remember them? the sexy Delta Lamda Zeta ladies? Remember, they were so in a high-level just to encourage Sid to join the row, but Sid was not that so a hurry to sign up the papers. Wow!!! three killers in the new sequel!!! Actually four, Jill was not shut on the forehead, so she's not dead... I LOVE SCREAM FiLMS!!!!!!,,,,,,,,,,

    • Please Wes craven I'm begging u all my life u is my best director if you want to make a scream 5 : a new generation I want to be in it I'm ten I could be sidneys sun I'm ten I always wanted to be a actor