November 17th, 2003
Kevin Williamson has defined my generation. I was 17 year olds when “Scream” came out and each of my friends was raving about it; Williamson managed to do what his idol John Hughes did in the eighties, bring back the teen movie genre. After “Scream,” about a half-dozen successful teen movies were released in it wake (such as “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” “She's All That,” “Scary Movie” et al).
He also created “Dawson's Creek,” which was huge when it started but eventually fizzled in a downward spiral when Williamson departed the series. He disappeared for a while after his directorial debut “Killing Mrs. Tingle” tanked with critics and audiences alike. A big-screen comeback only took four years. He decided to reteam with director Wes Craven who directed the “Scream” trilogy. The project is called "Cursed" and features Christina Ricci, Skeet Ulrich, Jesse Eisenberg and Shannon Elisabeth. We think.
Here's the story: In the opening minutes, Jenny meets a man dressed as a werewolf at a Hollywood costume party for charity. Unbeknown to her, he's the real deal, and he kills her in the parking lot. Reports had Mandy Moore originally playing this part, but it was announced this morning that Portia de Rossi has been added to cast as the opening-montage victim.
Then we're introduced to our three leads: Ellie Harper (Christina Ricci) an associate producer on “The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn,” Vince Winston (Skeet Ulrich) a spoiled rich kid and Jimmy Myers (Jesse Eisenberg) your typical geeky high-school teenager. When a huge animal makes Ellie's vehicle crash into Vince's car, the first person on the scene is Jimmy. A vicious beast attacks them before the cops arrive. Although they survived, they will never be the same again. When the next full moon arrives, changes become apparent in all of their behaviors. Suddenly Ellie has urges for blood at work. Jimmy wins a spot on the wrestling team. Ellie and Vince make love to each other like animals. After doing some research on the subject of werewolves, via the Internet, Jimmy discovers that to break the curse they must slay the person who first turned them into werewolves. Just to make it a little fun, the final encounter takes place in a Hollywood Wax museum. The screenplay follows the typical Williamson formula, starting with the opening scene.
The whole relationship between Jimmy and his father gave me serious “Dawson's Creek” flashbacks. I'm pretty sure I've seen it before. He even managed to integrate his sexual orientation into the plot. He had previously done the same thing in “Dawson's Creek” with the character of Jack, the high school football quarterback. This time it's one of those wrestling jocks, Bo, described here as a big guy who has a hottie girlfriend. He tries to kiss Jesse Eisenberg's character at one point. Another bad case of “Creek” deja vu. Is he trying to rip-off his own work? I'll admit that the screenplay does feature a few good laughs and classic Williamson pop-culture references. Everyone from Justin Timberlake, Ashton Kutcher to Colin Ferrell has his name-dropped somewhere in the flick. We've also got 2 cameos from Eighties washout: Corey Feldman and Scott Baio. Feldman briefly appears in the story, while Baio is courted by Ellie to be on the “Late Late Show” (more on him later on) She has to deal with Scott's assistant Joannie (Ah ha!), described here as a real b*tchy woman.
Did I like this screenplay? No. It's exceptionally bad at moments, but it does have hint of greatness. I like a few of the subplots, the whole high school storyline is fun. Too bad this screenplay wasn't worked on more extensively. It's a serious frustration.
Warning: I'm going to spoil the ending now. It seems that our friend Kevin has even stolen his own unique ending. The original “Scream” had *gasp* two killers; in 1996, that was considered a genius twist. No one saw that coming. Now 7 years later, it's a bit overdone. That movie sadly spawned dozens of copycat productions with over hyped “twists.” (Three killers! The supposed dead guy! The girlfriend! The supposed dead guy and his son!) So we have two evil werewolves for the price of one. All right, that doesn't sound so bad actually. But wait, there's more. What if one of them was... SCOTT BAIO? Not a character played by Scott Baio, but Baio playing himself. Frigging Chachi is the big bad baddie. I do give credit to Williamson for such a ballsy idea. Can you imagine Scott Baio is the villain in big Hollywood production? I did think “Oh wow, that's sure different.” Sure enough, 12 seconds later, I realized something. WHAT THE HELL WAS HE THINKING? Sure Baio appeared in a lengthy scene earlier on, but it made no common sense. The viewers would definitely be dumbfounded by such a revelation. Even more by the second *GASP* twist. He isn't the main villain. Baio is some sort of apprentice to his assistant Joannie (Ha! Again) who is the real WEREWOLF. He's some sort of sorry-a** henchman who's having second thoughts about having to kill people for food. One of the most sorry ass ending ever written in the history of modern day filmmaking. My brain feels violated by the stupidity of such a conclusion.
But breathe a sigh of relief: The story has completely changed. As we were the first to report, the film now focusing on an estranged brother and sister, who are mourning the recent loss of their parents, struggling with daily life in the Los Angeles until a vicious animal attack changes everything one dark night. Now they must fight for survival against the one thing they never expected: the curse of the werewolf. Hummm... No characters from the original draft were siblings or had brothers or sisters. Wes Craven was quoted on Sci-Fi Wire that "quite an extraordinary amount of new material is going to be shot, and a lot of material is going to be thrown away." Well could it be the entire film? I could see them salvaging the opening kill with Mandy Moore and that's about it. The rest of the film can't be saved because it delves too much with the original plot. Miramax really put them selves in the hole on this project. How could they possibly green light such a lame screenplay? Oh wait; it has the name of Kevin Williamson on the front page. He's a GOD over there. Anything he writes is gold for them. You all remember “Wasteland?” Or “Glory Days”? Neither do I. This project is a debacle of huge proportion. This is “Gigli”-like bad.
I love Miramax. They've made quality entertainment for most of my life and I hope they manage to save this film. And Kevin, you can wait another few years till you get one of those original thoughts again...
My rating: D+
This 115-page draft of "Cursed" is dated April 7, 2003 and written by Kevin Williamson. It is listed here as the second white revisions" draft.