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3 Crappy Business Tips from ‘Scream 4’

The Scream franchise is one of my favorites of all time. Although it’s hard to compare one genre with another, I rank it up there with Indiana Jones and Harry Potter. That’s blasphemy to snobby film critics, I’m sure, but I said “my favorite” not “most revered of all time for people that eat foie gras and pronounce ‘croissant’ with a fake French accent.” Plus, the last Lord of the Rings movie got a boatload of Oscars, so there’s really no accounting for taste. The fourth movie – SCRE4M if you must – opened to disappointing box office totals and has gotten middling reviews across the board.  Don’t want your latest product or service to be a huge disappointment after a series of successes? Then make sure you DON’T follow any of the tips Scream 4 has to offer.

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS A BIG-ASS SPOILER FOR A VICTIM IN SCREAM 4.

Whoopsie-daisy.

Give him a mask, and he's Ghostface!

1) Take small details and exaggerate them to the point of ridiculousness.

One of the things I love most about the Scream movies is that the killer was human. Not only was it screwed up that you know and trust your friends’ killer, but Ghostface actually stumbled and reacted to being attacked.

However, the killer in the fourth movie was pretty much a Keystone cop.  Ghostface couldn’t handle making a sharp turn let alone manage to stab someone with any accuracy. The problem was that the small detail was emphasized too much. If you include hand-written thank you notes with your orders, that’s sweet. If you write a personalized poem and seal the note with a lipstick kiss, you’re a bit of a freak show. Small gestures are effective because they’re just small enhancements to an overall product, not the focus.  A nice touch should remain just that: a touch.

La la la la, I can't hear you.

The dreaded I'm-not-listening and I'll-hold-my-breath-until-I-get-my-way combo.

2) Don’t listen to advice from people with experience.

We all know that characters in horror movies do stupid things. But Kirby – an otherwise intelligent and likeable character – does something unbelievably stupid toward the end of the movie. Despite the direct order by Sidney– someone who knows a thing or two about not dying a stupid death – Kirby leaves the unlocked safety of her home to go outside and help a trapped friend. What does she get for her efforts? A knife to the stomach. Luckily, the actress herself is much smarter. Although every situation is different and people hate the phrase “I know how you feel,” there are occasionally those helpful folks who have been in your shoes before. Why make your own mistakes when you can learn from others’? Acknowledge your own intuition and expertise, but make sure you’ve got an ear out for others who’ve faced the same decisions and take note of the consequences.

A riveting lecture, I'm sure.

This is a grape. And this is a grape. And this is a grape. And this is definitely a grape.

3) Treat customers like they’re stupid, especially by repeating yourself over and over and over and over and over…

Scream was the first horror movie where the characters themselves had actually seen scary movies, and the “rules” of survival were established by the first man I ever loved, Randy Meeks.
By time we reached the fourth movie, every character was talking about the “rules” nonstop. There’s no need treat the audience – or your customers – like they’re morons. It’s one thing to deliver information verbally and in writing. You want to draw attention to important information and have it written down for future reference (and legal accountability). But if you repeat yourself over and over again (think the Head-On commercial), customers are going to start:

a) feeling talked down to

b) start picturing you as a slimy politician with programmed talking points, and/or

c) wanting to burn down your house and slaughter everyone you love.

Oops, sorry, that last one was just me after watching the Head-On commercials. So what other business tips can you pull from Scream 4? Anything from movie franchises in general? What does Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter, and James Bond do so well over so many years to make them so successful? What did you think of the bullshit last fifteen minutes of Scream 4? Sound off in the comments below! Until next time, keep expanding your brand!

Jana



Jana Quinn

An old ‘G’ that’s been working for QLP since it was in Bret’s basement – Jana has been writing since she made up a story about a Jana-Tiger that liked rocky road ice cream and got straight A’s. She enjoys writing about marketing and pop culture, posting a ‘Die Hard’ article as often as she’s allowed. She is inspired by the articles at Cracked and frequently wears a Snuggie in the office. You can also connect with Jana on Google+.

Comments

  1. JPorretto

    Is that a LOTR dig?! Are you gonna take that Jill?!?!

    The less someone repeats themselves, the more I get along with them. Maybe it’s just because I remember almost everything everyone ever says to me (Which is a good AND bad thing), but repetitiveness is one of my biggest pet peeves.

  2. cyberneticSAM

    Are they ever going to stop making these sequels!?!? Same with Saw and Final Destination – aren’t there like forty of those? Your extrapolation though, which was well done, that is the only upside to Scream 4! :) Nice Job!

    • Jana Quinn

      I do like Scream better than Saw and Final Destination. Scream is a slasher franchise where the killer and motives change from film to film while Saw and Final Destination have the exact same killer and motives, just new characters. I did enjoy the movie for the most part, but the filmmakers really did drop the ball in a few places.

  3. Jill Tooley

    Haha, good points! I love the first 3 Scream movies and I’m pretty sure I can still recite the first one in its entirety because I’ve seen it so many times. No one wants to feel talked down to, and there’s a difference between clarifying something and spelling it out way too much. It seems like Scream 4 may have underestimated their target audience! I learned to pick out subtle foreshadowing and recapping after taking a couple of film analysis classes in college, so I’m especially sensitive to obvious ones. It sounds like this movie will prompt me to scream angrily at the screen anytime I notice one of these crappy business tips!

    And alas, on an unrelated note, I’m afraid that we’ve stumbled upon the first road block in our separated-at-birth theory. I immediately shuddered when I saw the YouTube video you linked to in the beginning (Clerks 2) because my hubby and I argue about that scene’s humor all the time (and by argue about its humor, I mean that he thinks it’s funny and I don’t – he’s a Star Wars nut and I’m a LOTR nut). As much as I love Star Wars, I’m fiercely loyal to the Lord of the Rings franchise. I’ve never understood why Star Wars and LOTR fans have to be at each other’s throats and “pick a side”…I’ll always choose the latter if forced to do so, but I love the Star Wars universe as well. And for the life of me, I can’t comprehend how anyone could interpret the films as “a bunch of people walking.” That’s like me summarizing Star Wars as “a bunch of people fighting with lightsabers.” There’s clearly way more to it than that!!

    But anyway, no harm done. Just had to state my point of view and defend MY favorite franchise! Different strokes for different folks and all of that jazz. ;)

    • Jana Quinn

      Okay, let’s – for argument’s sake – say that LOTR really is a bunch of people walking and SW really is a bunch of people fighting with lightsabers. Which would you rather watch?

      I REST MY CASE.

      Lawyered.

      • Jill Tooley

        Well, since I don’t really think that either of those statements is accurate, I don’t think it’s a valid argument to choose one based on that. Of course Star Wars is going to seem more exciting if it’s stripped down to those terms because it’s set in the future where everyone owns sweet laser weapons and spaceships. Who would want to ride around on horses and fight with swords if those were an option?!? But that kind of flash doesn’t automatically make it superior. Not by a long shot. The majority of moviegoers would rather watch Michael Bay movies with lots of explosions and pretty CGI than watch a documentary, too, but that doesn’t make it better. (Not that I’m likening Star Wars to MB movies, but you see what I mean).

        The way I see it, they’re completely separate entities set in completely different time periods with completely different characters and motivations, so I’m not really sure why they get pitted against each other so much in the first place. Star Wars and Star Trek I can see because they’re in the same vein, but Star Wars and LOTR isn’t quite the same ballgame. When I watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I’m transported to a new world where I can watch my favorite (and least favorite) characters develop and interact with one another to forge complex relationships and companionships. I can’t even tell you how many times watching/reading LOTR has brought me the calm and internal peace I needed. Star Wars is awesome and all, but I just don’t get the same comfort and introspectiveness from watching those! It all boils down to preference. We’re all entitled to our opinions and I don’t think either of us is going to budge on this…

        So I say we just agree to disagree. I didn’t mean for the comments section to turn into a heated debate!

        • Jana Quinn

          1) Star Wars is NOT set in the future. Haven’t you read the opening crawl? “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” And how do you know the Shire isn’t somewhere on Endor?

          2) The franchises have tons of similarities; Lucas actually credits LotR as an influence on the SW series.

          Check out this link for some more:
          http://moongadget.com/origins/lotr.html

          I actually also really like the comparison of SW to Harry Potter here: http://www.neatorama.com/2007/05/08/harry-potter-and-star-wars/

          3) LotR gives you calm and internal peace. Fish tanks give me calm and internal peace. I don’t get calm and internal peace from SW because there’s too much awesome exploding everywhere. IT’S A TRAP!!

          4) Agree to disagree? NEVER!! Get distracted by something shiny and forget to continue debating in the comments? PROBABLY!!

          • Jill Tooley

            Okay, I wasn’t correct in saying it was set in the future and now I feel dumb for saying that (yes, of course I’ve seen the opening credits and I did know that). I guess, somewhere in the back of my mind, I’ve always thought of it being set in the future (even though I know it isn’t/wasn’t) because it has technology that we don’t yet have at this very moment. My mistake.

            I just get tired of this whole rivalry because it’s all subjective and nothing ever gets solved by debating it. It just makes the respective fanboys/fangirls more rabid. I don’t understand how loving one always equates to hating the other. Seems like a waste.

            Anyway, I’m out…too much to do and too little time to do it!

            • Jana Quinn

              I actually didn’t even realize there was an existing rivalry between Star Wars and LotR. I had heard of the Star Wars/Star Trek one before, but other than the clip and this comments section, I hadn’t realized one existed.

              I like my fantasy with light sabers, walking carpets, and Harrison Ford. You like yours with evil eyes, lush forests, and shiny jewelry. There’s plenty of room in this world for the two of us. :)

          • Juliette

            Wait…now I have this horrible image of Hobbits hanging out with Ewoks on the second moon of Endor.

  4. Joseph Giorgi

    I had to skip past Tip #2, since I probably won’t be seeing “Scre4m” until it’s on video and I’d rather not subject myself to spoilers. Sorry.

    But Tips 1 and 3 are very good points. Actually, Tip 3 is probably something that often gets overlooked. It’s never a good idea to condescend or patronize your audience (or customer base) through unnecessary repetition.

    Plenty of modern horror films have been guilty of repeating or rehashing the formulas of earlier films to lesser success. You’d think that filmmakers would learn a thing or two about innovation by this point. The “Scream” franchise is actually a good example of this. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the first one immensely, but by the time the sequels rolled around, the whole “rules of survival” thing pretty much felt like it was overdone, which is why I only really appreciated the original.

    Speaking of repetition: what exactly am I supposed to do with “Head On” again? ;)

    • Jana Quinn

      I really actually liked 2 and 3 (2 more than 3, although 2 will always make me a little bit sad). I even really liked 4… until the last fifteen minutes. A bad ending can really break a good movie while a good ending can rarely save a bad flick. Unfortunately, Scream 4 fell into the first camp.

      And that’s all I’ll say. :)

  5. Jana Quinn

    P.S. You’re waiting until Scream 4 is on “video”? Let me know how that works out, Grandpa.

    • Amanda Sneed

      I’m with Joe–I’ll wait until it’s out on “video” too, hahaha.

  6. Amanda Sneed

    I feel pretty left out of this post. I haven’t seen LOTR, SW, or the 3rd or 4th Scream! lol….and I had to read over this post a couple times to figure out what LOTR and SW even stood for, oh boy!

    I’ve seen the first two Screams, and they’re ok. I’d watch 3 and 4 if they’re on tv one day, maybe.

  7. Juliette

    I make my confession now that I’ve only ever seen the first Scream. But in my defense I loved it!

    And as for the Clerks 2 clip…it cracks me up. I love Star Wars to a fault and I also love LOTR, but I can laugh at the intensity of my loyalty to various fandoms (and if you’ve never seen Fanboys you really should. The scene where they bash on Trekkies makes me laugh even though I’ve been a Trekkie all my life). I can understand the rivalries but it’s rare that I’ll take sides. To me you can’t really compare any of them since they’re all in such different genres.

    As for the Scream 4 , does anyone else find it amusing that they were poking fun at the Scream franchise well before this 4th movie in Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back? (They ran through the “set” of Scream 4″) And I’m sad to hear that the killer seems to be so….klutzy (according to point #1). I like in the first movie that you knew he was human thanks to the occasional running into a door but it wasn’t overdone.

    • Jana Quinn

      I just saw Fanboys a few weeks ago! So good.

      You simply MUST check out the rest of the Scream series. If you liked the first one – especially the characters – you’ll enjoy the rest.

      I had never seen Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, but I do remember seeing Jay and Silent Bob cameo briefly in Scream 3. Interesting how these worlds overlap…

  8. Bret Bonnet

    I think the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings franchises are difficult to compare because ALL the HP and LOTR books were for the most part a GREAT success and very popular. I don’t think Scream 1, 2, 3, and Total Crap were based off a book – but I could be wrong.

    Even though Scream 4 was pretty bad, let’s face it, this was a desperate attempt at extracting cash from students bored out of their minds sitting at home during what was an otherwise dreary and raining spring break, and when looking through things through that type of lens, the movie was a HUGE success! :)

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