We all have one. Every film writer here at Trespass and beyond, whenever asked the question “What film made you fall in love with cinema?” has an answer that will never waver. No matter how many bad sequels (The Matrix!), failed comebacks (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, anyone?) or over-zealous directors tinkering with their product (George Lucas, give it up!) can change what was once a life-changing moment.
For me that film was Wes Craven’s 1996 horror satire Scream. Released nearly 15 years ago, it was a day off sick from school that allowed me to be introduced to it on VHS. Having been a big fan of TV hit Friends at the time I thought anything with Courteney Cox was bound to be worth a watch! Little did I know that all these years later I would still be writing about it and that my affection for the franchise – sequels in 1997 and 2000 rounded out the trilogy – would become one of my most defining (some might say annoying) traits.
But what may just appear to be a quaint nostalgic memory to some is actually far more. For this Scream fan, it opened up a whole new world. Before long I had dived headfirst into the glorious world of cinema, with a fondness for the horror titles with shocking and inventive covers on the shelves of local video stores. That was, of course, in between watching my brother’s video copy of Scream every single day that time permitted. Every. Single. Day. Scream 2 soon followed, and while I didn’t watch that one quite as much, it’s a rare sequel that comes astonishingly close to bettering its predecessor.
The three years between the second and third, however, are some of the most cherished and most horrible I can recall. Coinciding with the ghastly days of high school was my discovery of a series of online communities, devoted to the discussion of and theorising behind the Scream movies. It was like its own version of school – cliques were formed, friends made and secrets shared. In between discussing the latest rumour from the set of Scream 3 we’d write our own fan fiction in which we cast each other, we’d play “six degrees of Scream” games and we’d share our deepest thoughts.
My brother once told me I had no life, but I did – I had one with like-minded people who shared a common love. We discussed our families, friends and, perhaps strangely, several of us even came out with our sexuality within a short span of each other. If these guys thought it was okay, maybe the real world would too?
In 2002, much to the raised eyebrow of our parents, a group of us from around the world all convened upon Sydney and spent two great weeks together. Looking back on it they were two phenomenal weeks that solidified friendships that continue to this very day. I’m now a writer, Colby is married and is the manager of a business in California, Desirae moved from Alaska to California and studies teaching in between managing a cinema, Bartjan lives and works in Holland, Joanna is teacher in Perth, Jen moved from Sydney to UK to be a research assistant and Simon works in film and TV production in Sydney. We, and others from various parts of the globe, still communicate through the wonders of social networking (that Scream 4 skewers so well) and our excitement for the latest sequel has been palpable. This is why we all know each other and even if we’re kilometres, states or oceans apart it’s like our own high school reunion. In fact as you read this Simon from Sydney, in town for a holiday, and I will be watching Scream 4 for a third time.
But many have misunderstood my particular brand of Scream 4 enthusiasm as nothing more than idol franchise worship. And while it is true I would have gone out of my way to see Scream 8: Ghostface Takes Manhattan, a lot of the reason why this movie feels like such an event is because this is the Scream 4 we never thought we’d get. By the time the fourth film of a horror franchise – any franchise – rolls around the cast and crew that made the original(s) so worthwhile have almost all but moved on. The announcement that not only that the original creative team, director Wes Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson, were returning, but also the three main principal cast members, Neve Campbell, David Arquette and Courteney Cox, well that was the tipping point from being an exciting curiosity to full-blown mad anticipation. Did it live up to my own hype? It sure did!
Times have definitely changed since 1996; then I wasn’t even able to see the movie in a cinema, and today I get to see it early because somebody somehow decided I was worthy enough to be classified as “press”. Being able to write about film on a daily basis – whether it is at Trespass or any of the other various places I write for – is a privilege I would not have if it weren’t for being introduced to Scream all those years ago. It awoke a love of cinema within me that has never dimmed since. And even if I have to see twaddle like Battle: Los Angeles or Sucker Punch, there’s always times when a Scream 4 comes along and I remember why I’m here in the first place. It was love at first scream.
Scream 4 is currently in national release. I am seeing it many more times, indeed.