The Original Opening Of Scream 4 Sounds Completely Nuts

The late horror legend Wes Craven may be gone, but the director's influence has only grown stronger over the years. More and more people coming around on his 2005 thriller "Red Eye," and his "Scream" franchise is just about to add its newest member to the family with (the still annoyingly titled) "Scream," directed by "Ready or Not" filmmakers Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett. If you're anything like me, the release of the next sequel likely means you've spent the last week or so revisiting all 4 prior films, most of which have absolutely no business working as well as they do. With a villain as malleable and ripe for commentary as Ghostface — or, rather, whoever inhabits the Ghostface persona at any given time — the series of meta-horror flicks have always brought something new to the conversation with each film.

Other than the original, of course, 2011's "Scream 4" might just be the best possible example of how well this approach works when (almost) every layer of the script is firing on all cylinders. Released a decade after "Scream 3" (which makes the upcoming "Scream" a legacy sequel to a legacy sequel, in case you're curious how dependent we are on bringing back preestablished franchises these days!), the fourth film takes a deeply cynical, yet thoroughly on-point aim at our increasingly viral-obsessed generation ... a message that many might even say has only aged even better in the time since. The famous opening of the movie puts viewers through a series of fake-out moments, revealing one after the other to simply be characters watching the in-universe horror franchise "Stab" ... until the actual blood-soaked opening finally kicks in. But to hear franchise screenwriter Kevin Williamson tell it, at one point those disorienting first few minutes were meant to have gone very, very differently.

Flipping the Script

Full disclosure: I just recently put on "Scream 4" and I'm still buzzing off the high of its twin villain reveals. The entire third act adds such a potent punch to the gut, particularly in terms of how an internet-savvy generation of desensitized teens could easily find it within themselves to pull off horrific acts that were once only attributed to the most traumatized and deeply disturbed individuals among us. 

Looking at you, Billy Loomis and Stu Macher! 

But before we got to the shocking conclusion, the first several minutes of "Scream 4" put audiences through a twisting, highly entertaining series of meta fake-outs. Screenwriter Kevin Williamson, credited for the scripts of the original movie, "Scream 2," and "Scream 4" (so all the good ones, essentially), recently spoke to Entertainment Weekly and discussed his original idea to kick things off in "Scream 4" with a bang. Apparently, the film could've opened with Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) fending off an attack by Ghostface ... but, in an intriguing twist on the formula, not the same Ghostface who would become the movie's main villain.

"She fought for her life. It was a big, huge, 15-minute fight where she kept stabbing the killer, the killer kept stabbing her. I think she was stabbed five times, and crawling across the floor. And then she killed the killer, and the surprise was she didn't die [like the characters attacked in the openings of the three previous 'Scream' films]. The killer died."

Honestly, I lost track of how many times I grew frustrated during my recent "Scream" marathon over how the characters in the film could've easily dispatched with the endearingly clumsy Ghostface long before each film's climactic moments. That would violate all the rules of conventional storytelling, obviously, so I get why the villain always managed to escape. From that perspective, I can see the appeal in this alternate opening, throwing viewers off-balance and left to wonder how the rest of the movie would unfold ... but I'm not sad to see it go. Wes Craven himself apparently agreed, according to Williamson:

"I wrote [the meta opening] and sent it to Wes, and he goes, 'Oh, no, this one's better.' When I brought it in, everyone jumped on that and said, 'This is great.' And it was. It was much better than the [original] scene I wrote."

"Scream" comes to theaters today.