Famed slasher horror movie screenwriter and Scream creator Kevin Williamson has revealed what it is that scares him. In 1996, the now 56-year-old launched his career with what was to be the first entry in Wes Craven’s iconic Scream franchise. Williamson’s script was filled with everything that an excellent slasher horror film needs, but it also added its unique elements of comedy and offered a diverse range of horror movie references.
The success of the first Scream launched a late 1990’s revival of the slasher genre, providing Williamson with the task of writing Scream 2 and a successful big-screen adaptation of Lois Duncan’s novel I Know What You Did Last Summer in 1997. Williamson continued to work with Craven right up until the late director’s final film, Scream 4. The only movie in the Craven Scream era that Williamson didn’t write was 2000’s Scream 3 – an entry in the series that many fans inarguably site as the worst of the franchise. As the fifth installment in the franchise prepares to launch this coming January, Williamson remains connected to the concept he created a quarter of a century ago. He may not be credited as a writer on the new Scream film, but he worked with writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick on the script.
With such a lengthy and beloved horror movie career to his credit, some fans might wonder if the films he’s written are a true reflection of what actually scares him. After all, the age-old writer’s adage of write what you know could be a credible starting point for Williamson’s work. Fortunately, the Scream maestro took the time to answer that recently while speaking to ComicBook.com. When asked what’s the question he most often gets from fans regarding Scream, Williamson said:
I guess one of the questions is, “What scares you?” I get that question a lot or some version of that question. What’s so funny, though, is Wes told me that that was his number one question whenever someone would ask him. The number one question asked, “What scares you?” It’s like, I’m afraid of the dark just like anybody else. I’m afraid of things I can’t see. I’m afraid of the unknown. I’m afraid of whatever this brain can conjure up, because that’s really what it’s about.
Without directly saying as much, Williamson clarifies that he feels that fear is primarily a product of one’s mind – which is likely why he’s such a great horror writer. The masked killer(s) of Scream literally thrives on the concept of anonymity, often inducing their victims into a continuous cycle of cat and mouse hysteria before finally taking action. Williamson’s response leaves the concept of fear wide open, providing fans with a bit of insight into his point of view when creating the scenes that make audiences jump.
In the grand history of horror films, it’s hard to say precisely where Williamson fits in. Indeed, some might balk at the idea of the Scream screenwriter being on par with horror screenwriting legends like George Romero or William Peter Blatty. Still, Williamson’s contributions to the genre are nothing to scoff at. Fear may be subjective, but carving out enough of the basic elements to scare audiences for decades is a tremendous challenge – one that Williamson has consistently been up for.
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