Archive for Kevin Williamson

I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) Review

Posted in I Know What You Did Last Summer with tags , , , on September 8, 2014 by Last Road Reviews

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I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER

**** Out of 5

Tagline- If You’re Going to Bury the Truth, Make Sure It Stays Buried.

Release Date- October 17th, 1997

Running Time- 100-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Kevin Williamson

Director- Jim Gillespie

Starring- Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Freddie Prinze Jr.

Released in 1997 I Know What You Did Last Summer was part of the slasher film revival along with Scream with both films being written by Kevin Williamson. When looking back at the 90s it was Kevin Williamson who redefined not only the horror genre, but the teen TV drama with Dawson’s Creek. But sticking with horror, when Scream was released in 1996 the slasher film was pretty much dead with only the franchises making any money, but even they were a little below par and the horror genre as a whole, while still successful to some degree was probably at one of its weaker eras in quality and the in box office. But with Scream, Kevin Williamson took an old and tired style of film and brought a breath of fresh air to it. I Know What You Did Last Summer is every bit as well written as Scream though they’re also both quite different. ILWYDLS while a popular horror film in my opinion is also vastly underrated as well. If you ask me oit isn’t just one of the best slasher films of the 90s, but its the best of any decade. Kevin Williamson was very much on the pulse of the horror genre in the 90s and I would rate him as one of my film idols and a writer I often look to for inspiration.

Four friends make a vow to never again speak of the accident, in which they hit a man with a car and thinking he was dead they dumped his body into the water, but he was still alive at the time. Now a year later they get messages saying I Know What You Did Last Summer and soon enough they are stalked by someone who knows their secret and after a couple of appearances just trying to scare them it soon turns to murder as someone is out for revenge.

The screenplay by Kevin Williamson is cleverly plotted with terrific characters with plenty of depth. What I love about the films written by Williamson is they’re actually well written and while there are plenty of excellently written horror films by this point in the genre horror films weren’t exactly known for having a plot or strong writing. The beauty of horror films is you can get away with a subpar script (well to some degree), but when well written it makes things all the better and Williamson is a great writer. Williamson has a style like every writer, but he isn’t a one trick pony either and IKWYDLS very much showcases how talented of a writer he is. Its refreshing to see a slasher film that actually is well written with terrific characters and the script actually plays out more of a thriller with slasher aspects thrown in.

Director Jim Gillespie crafts a well paced film loaded with suspense and tension. Gillespie crafts much more of a thriller as the slasher parts are kept to a minimum until the final act. There’s been many films that mixed thriller and slasher and while some were successful the good bulk lacked identity, but Gillespie avoids that pitfall and neither the thriller or slasher take away from each other. IKWYDLS isn’t a body count film so if that’s what you’re expecting you might be letdown. The first murder by the fisherman doesn’t happen until the 38-minute mark. The next death doesn’t happen until the 72-minute mark. However in between death scenes Jim Gillespie builds an incredible amount of suspense and tension as the fisherman is waiting and watching. Once we get to the final act is when the film starts to play like the traditional slasher, but due to the build up its more effective than most. IKWYDLS also has perhaps the greatest chase scene of any slasher film. When the fisherman goes after Helen that whole sequence is the most effective scene in the film and in my opinion again rates as one of the best sequences in a slasher film.

What fascinates me the most about horror films in the post-Scream era is the casting and I’ve mentioned this in past reviews, but there came a point when it was nearly impossible to land an actor with any fame unless they were at a low point in their careers and there’s no way any up and coming actors sign on. IKWYDLS has an excellent cast with the main attraction being Jennifer Love Hewitt and Michelle Gellar both who were terrific. My only compliant is Jennifer doesn’t put up enough of a fight, but Jennifer has this really sweet and wholesome quality, which makes her one of my favorite scream queens despite only having a couple of credits.

I Know What You Did Last Summer was based off a novel by Lois Duncan and while I never read the novel from what I do know of it the book aims more for a young teen audience and the film while keeping the basic idea also very much strays. Lois Duncan has commented on her major dislike of the film and hated how it was turned into a teen slasher.

Overall IKWYDLS is one of my very favorite horror films of the 90s and one of my all time favorites. This was at the peak of Kevin Williamson’s career and later in 1997 Scream 2 was released and was another massive hit. But who knew not long after this Williamson would hit a rut as after the Faculty in 1998 it would be a while before he found any success as the films he wrote or produced were box office duds and his TV shows post-Dawson’s Creek didn’t last very long. While the Kevin Williamson era didn’t last more than a couple of years he accomplished more in those couple of years than most in the genre. Its films like this is why Kevin Williamson is one of my film idols.

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Scream 4 (2011) Review

Posted in Scream 4 with tags , , on February 28, 2014 by Last Road Reviews

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SCREAM 4

**** Out of 5

Release Date- April 15th, 2011

Tagline- New Decade. New Rules

Running Time- 111-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Kevin Williamson

Director- Wes Craven

Starring- Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Corteney Cox, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Marley Shelton, Rory Culkin

In 1996 when Scream was released it reinvented not just the slasher film, but the horror genre as a whole. I love Scream, but regardless of what anybody thought of the film its influence is right up there with films such as Halloween and the Exorcist. When Scream was released the horror genre was probably the weakest its been in quite a while and even though there were some good films, horror wasn’t nearly as marketable. 15-years after the original film Scream 4 was released and a lot had changed in that time.

Scream 3 was billed as the final act and I don’t think it’s a huge shocker that ended up not being the case, but I am a bit surprised it took so long for Scream 4 to be made (11-years). In my opinion Scream 3 was the weakest and I think that movie proved Kevin Williamson was the real success of the series and his loss was very much felt. Also by the time Scream 3 came out even though only 4-years removed from the original the Scream formula was wearing thin as from Hollywood films to low budget films copied its formula. The first two Scream films made over 100-million and Scream 3 while down to about 80-million was still a big hit. I don’t think anyone expected Scream 4 to make the same impact as the original in terms of influence or the same impact in the box office like the previous 3, which it didn’t and the film broke even and wasn’t and I’m not sure what expectations were though I’m sure Dimension probably expected a little more in ticket sales. I think the time elapsed since the 3rd and by this time while the influence of Scream could still be seen on the genre horror films were taking a little darker approach again with films like Saw and Hostel (well once you get past the first half that is). I was super excited for Scream 4 since I loved the first two and even happier one of my film idols Kevin Williamson would be returning to write since again I felt his not writing the 3rd film hurt. By the time 2011 rolled around its been a while since Williamson had a hit and his last couple of film productions I wasn’t overly fond of, but as I watched Scream 4 all my fears were erased and my excitement for Scream 4 proved warranted. The Scream films are often labeled satires, which is only half true as they’re also legit horror films. Ghostface can be playful one moment and cruel the next, but in Scream 4 while the same could be said again, but Ghostface seemed a little meaner than playful.

In many ways Scream 4 mirrors the original film and I think the best way to put it if Scream was released in 2011 rather than 1996 Scream 4 is more or less the film it would have been. Scream 4 returns to Woodsboro (2nd was Ohio, 3rd Hollywood). Its been 15-years since the original murders and Dewey (Arquette) is now sheriff and married to Gail (Cox). Sidney (Campbell) recently wrote a book on her life and during the book tour she returns to Woodsboro. But she once again finds herself in danger as someone is out to do a real life remake of the original murders.

The screenplay was written by Kevin Williamson however Ehren Kruger who wrote Scream 3 and was an executive producer was brought in to do rewrites. Some reports are major rewrites with other reports say minor rewrites. However only Williamson is credited. I’ve seen every film Kevin Williamson has written and honestly this feels like his style for the most part. Regardless of that fact, Scream 4 is cleverly plotted and written and has fun with the cliches of the films when this was made. As I mentioned Scream 4 has a slightly darker tone at times. Like the past 3 this one is fun and satirical, but Ghostface isn’t quite as playful as past films. Even though Ghostface could be both playful and cruel within the same scene there just seems to be something a little more sinister. The characters are solid and while they aren’t as interesting as the original characters they still have their own identities and each character adds a little something to the film and Kirby (Panettiere) is my all time favorite Scream character. As I stated before the events and characters mirror that of the original and Scream 4 is more or less the film Scream would have been if made in 2011. As for the core of the cast of Dewey, Gail and Sidney, I still very much love these characters and I’m glad they were back, but they don’t impact the story as they once did and that would really be my only complaint as with a few changes the film could have worked without them. Overall the screenplay is terrific as its smart and clever with one twist at the end I could honestly say I didn’t expect.

The previous year in 2010 Wes Craven directed My Soul to Take, which in my opinion was his worst film so I was a little nervous, but I also believed Wes could still deliver another great film and he sure did just that. Scream 4 is excellently paced with some excerpt suspense and tension and like past films in the series quite exciting. Wes perfectly balances the light and dark tone with an easy transition between the two. The death scenes are well staged and are a little more extreme than the previous 3 as again even if Scream 4 is fun it’s also a bit darker. The death of Olivia was actually quite brutal and just might be my favorite death scene in the series. Wes Craven delivers an excellent film and Scream 4 is my 2nd favorite of the series and was for me the best horror film of 2011.

Scream 4 was plagued by some trouble during production with actors dropping out and rewrites and more often than not these problems sink a film, but Scream 4 excels. Williamson’s script is fantastic and Craven makes his best film since Scream 2. Scream 4 may not have redefined the genre like the original, but its still a great film and is a great companion piece to the original. Scream 4 is fun and suspenseful and the best since the original.

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Scream 2 (1997)

Posted in Scream 2 with tags , , on February 26, 2014 by Last Road Reviews

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SCREAM 2

**** Out of 5

Tagline- Someone Has Taken Their Love of Sequels One Step too Far

Release Date- December 12th, 1997

Running Time- 120-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Kevin Williamson

Director- Wes Craven

Starring- Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Jamie Kennedy, Jerry O’Connell, Liev Schreiber, Timothy Olyphant and Laurie Metcalf

After the massive success of Scream almost exactly 1-year later saw the release of Scream 2. In general most sequels fail to be as good as the originals and in the case of the horror genre that is even truer. As far as horror sequels go Scream 2 isn’t exactly Bride of Frankenstein, but it isn’t Jason X either. We’ll all have different opinions, but I think Scream 2 is one of the rare sequels that actually lives up to the original even if as a whole it isn’t as good. Scream 2 is pretty much the same as the original in terms of the basic structure, but yet still feels fresh enough that it doesn’t feel like a rehash.

Scream 2 is a set a year later where the survivors of Woodsboro are trying to put the past behind them, but when a series of murfers begin to happen and someone is attempting to create a real life sequel. All bets are off and everybody is once again a suspect.

After the success of Scream it launched the career of writer Kevin Williamson who is one of my film idols. Williamson’s script is funny and clever filled with interesting and well developed characters, which is something very rare in slasher films and I really can’t think of many slasher films with as many memorable characters as Scream & Scream 2. What I liked so much about Williamson’s script is in reality just about any of the main characters could have survived since they were developed enough. It isn’t exactly difficult to figure, which characters will meet their demise, but again just about anyone could have survived. Williamson clearly understands the horror film and slasher film and never does anything seem forced. Like the original the writing is sharp, clever and often funny, though the only real downside is its fairly obvious the identity of the killer or killers.

When looking back at 90s horror it was a very mixed bag and in my opinion it was a middle of the road era. There were some truly fantastic films, some not great, but highly entertaining films, but there seemed to be more subpar films than past decades as most filmmakers were unable to make the transition from the 80s to the 90s and the newer filmmakers to come along mostly failed at brining anything really memorable, but Kevin Williamson redefined the horror and slasher film with Scream and Scream 2 and when people look back at horror in the 90s Williamson will be the first person people think of. The script for Scream 2 has some flaws most of, which come about in the final act when it does get a little over the top and I didn’t really love the reasons behind the murders, but for the most Williamson delivers an excellent and well written movie in a sub-genre not known for the writing and that could be said about even the better slasher films with some exceptions. After Scream from 1997-1999 Kevin Williamson besides writing Scream 2 also wrote I Know What You Did Last Summer (released the same year as Scream 2), the Faculty and was also a producer on Halloween: H20, created Dawson’s Creek and was involved with the first 2 seasons before leaving and wrote and made his directorial debut with Teaching Mrs. Tingle. Even though I felt Scream 2 was well written as I mentioned the final act does get a bit messy and there are some minor flaws here and there, which can be due to the amount of films Williamson was involved in and or script leaks on Scream 2 led to rewrites. However any complaints aside I just loved Williamson’s style and he’s greatly impacted my writing.

Director Wes Craven delivers a mostly well-paced movie with some solid suspense and tension and also delivers a movie that is quite fun and exciting. Scream 2 features a little more action than the original since in the first Scream the opening and closing act where is a bulk of the action took place, but Scream was so well written and made it didn’t need to rely on action. This time the added body count was a little more needed despite also being well made and written. Scream 2 runs at 120-minutes, which is quite long for a slasher film as most run between 85-92-minutes. The scene when Sid (Campbell) has a discussion with the director of the school play, than rehearsals and than the scene with her boyfriend right after are kind of pointless and really make no impact on the overall story and this sequence does slow the pace down. There are also some other small issues with the pace, which has nothing to do with Craven’s direction or Williamson’s writing for that matter, but with a little more editing to tighten up the running time, which again at 120-minutes is a little overly long I think Scream 2 could have been just a notch below the original. Outside of that, Craven delivers an excellent film. Wes is one of my favorite filmmakers and while he can be hit or miss at times he makes a fantastic film with Scream 2, but I will say again like I did in my review for the original Scream this is very much a writer’s movie. Wes Craven does bring a lot to Scream 2, but like I said I still feel it was Williamson’s sharp and clever writing, but regardless Wes Craven delivers an excellent movie that is both funny and suspenseful and is one of the best horror films of the 90s.

I think some of the negative comments about the Scream series stems more from what came afterwards; after the success of Scream it seemed every filmmaker attempted at recreating Scream and studios now embraced the horror genre more than ever and casting often included some TV star from a teen show in most cases and a lot of up and coming actors who never would have done these films back in the 80s, but I think it’s unfair to dislike Scream because of what it started because in that case why not hate John Carpenter’s Halloween for all the poor knockoffs that came after that? Scream 2 wouldn’t make my top 50, but it’s an excellent horror movie and provides enough fun and scares and easily rates as one of the best of the 90s and if I were to rate my favorite horror films of the 90s odds are both Scream & Scream 2 make my top 5 (the original just might take my top spot of the 90s). The original Scream was a massive hit and proving it wasn’t a fluke, Scream 2 was also a big hit with over 100- million in the US. Scream 2 is clever and fun and like the original works as a satire and legit horror film.

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Scream (1996) Review

Posted in Scream with tags , , , on February 25, 2014 by Last Road Reviews

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SCREAM

**** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- Someone’s Taken Their Love of Scary Movies One Step too Far

Release Date- December 20th, 1996

Running Time- 111-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Kevin Williamson

Director- Wes Craven

Starring- Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Rose McGowan, Skeet Ulrich, Matthew Lillard, Jamie Kennedy and Drew Barrymore as Casey Becker

When Scream was released in 1996 the horror genre was in a slight funk and while there were still some good movies coming out as a whole this was probably the weakest the genre had been in quite a while and the slasher film was long dead and even the franchises were failing to make much of an impact. While there were still some slashers made most were DTV and as a whole I think the problem the horror genre was having is it sort of lacked an identity.

The great horror filmmakers of the 70s and 80s were losing their edge and making some of the weakest films of their careers and the new filmmakers to emerge were unable to bring anything new to the genre, but that all changed when Kevin Williamson wrote Scream. Kevin Williamson very much redefined the horror film and slasher film and have the 90s an identity. Back in the mid to late 80s a lot of slasher films started to take a lighter approach with some such as Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives taking a more satirical approach so Williamson wasn’t the first to try this, but Scream had a style all of its own and makes for a great satire, but also legit horror film, which for some reason people tend to forget. Scream started off slowly and seemed it would be another forgotten horror film than suddenly box office numbers started to grow and Scream became a massive success and even though Scream wasn’t the first horror film to become a massive hit for some reason Hollywood took notice and embraced these films more than ever. Scream also had a cast of TV stars and up and coming actors, which was quite a stray from past horror films since in most cases it was actors who are on the downside of their careers or actors who were unknown at the time. Scream would rate as my favorite horror film of the 90s and even though I didn’t really like the trend it started I won’t hold that against the film and in my opinion Scream is one of those films that became an instant classic.

Sidney Prescott (Campbell) is still dealing with the death of her mother from a year ago when she begins to get phone calls from a killer out to create a real life horror movie.

The screenplay by Kevin Williamson is terrific as he writes a clever satire and a legit horror film. Unlike the good portion of slasher films, Scream is very well-written filled with well-developed and likable characters that are able to carry the movie when there isn’t any action. While there are slasher films with likable characters I really can’t think of many that each character greatly adds to the film and aren’t there to simply be killed off. The characters are quite fun and entertaining and from a plot side of things Scream is excellent as its driven by characters and plot. Kevin Williamson started the self-aware characters, which is something that has hurt horror films in the years following, but Kevin Williamson however makes it fun and it feels natural whereas other writers have tried this and failed miserably. In most horror films it seems like no one is aware of horror movies, but Williamson actually mentions other films and some of the characters are horror fans and sort of laugh at the silly clichés until they are themselves are caught up in the same situation. Kevin Williamson’s script pays tribute to past slashers, but rather than feeling like a rehash it feels fresh and new. Scream is pretty much a horror movie coming to life and at every turn Williamson has fun with the clichés that brought these films down by the late 80s and he’s able to put his own twist on a tired style of film. There were slasher films in the past that had solid writing as films like the original Halloween and Black Christmas come to mind, but as the slasher film went on the writing got quite subpar even if the films were good and sadly the audience accepted that and sure these films don’t need to have a great screenplay to work, but that still isn’t an excuse for lazy writing and Williamson shows a slasher film can indeed be well written. Another thing I loved about the writing is how one moment Ghostface can be kind of playful and the very next become quite sadistic in their taunting of the would be victim and Williamson manages to balance both to perfection.

Director Wes Craven delivers a well-paced and fun movie with legit moments of suspense and tension. Scream isn’t exactly action packed since most of the action is confined to the opening and closing acts, but Craven still delivers an entertaining and highly suspenseful movie, which moves at a nice pace, which not only has to do with Craven’s direction, but the writing and acting. What I really love about Wes Craven is his ability to take every day normal settings and make them something terrifying and while Scream isn’t the scariest movie I’ve ever seen, Craven is able to take the setting and make into something dark and creepy. As great as Craven does with Scream I still think the main reason for the success was Williamson’s writing. That’s not to say anybody could have made Scream and Craven does bring a lot to the movie, but really when all is said and done the real success behind Scream was Kevin Williamson.

The opening scene with Drew Barrymore perfectly sets the tone for the movie as it plays off fun, but yet suspenseful and dark as well and Williamson and Craven really set the tone perfectly for what’s to come; some people rate it as the best opening scene in a horror film and while I wouldn’t go that far it is however one of the best and really hooks the viewer in.

Overall Scream works great as both a satire and legit horror flick and never does anything feel out of place. Scream is smart and clever that features a terrific cast with an iconic director and a writer in Kevin Williamson that would also become an icon in the genre. Outside of the films written by Kevin Williamson I can’t say that I loved the direction 90s horror took, but like Halloween and Friday the 13th, Scream was a game changer and in my opinion one of the best the genre has to offer.

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My Top 5 90s Slashers

Posted in 90s Slashers: Top 5 with tags , , , , , on July 26, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

5. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer

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4: Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later

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3. I Know What You Did Last Summer

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2. Scream 2

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1. Scream

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