Coincidentally, days after Scream 4 opened in theaters, ABC's Cougar Town returned from its winter hiatus. I have been eagerly anticipating the return of both series, of which Courtney Cox is the star. Oh come on, don't hate - Cougar Town is hilarious. But wouldn't it have been much, much cooler if Cox could have combined these two projects? Maybe she could call it Screaming Cougar or something like that. Here's how it could play out:
If we're following the Scream formula, an unimportant character must die gruesomely in the episode's opening. That would be Barb, the only true cougar in the now reformatted buddy sitcom. When the phone rings (she's an older lady and definitely still has a landline), the voice of Ghostface asks, "What's your favorite scary movie?" But before Barb can answer, Ghostface jumps out from behind her lifetime supply of Botox injections and slashes her throat.
The next day, word gets around the cul-de-sac because the chief of police spilled the beans to Bobby during their morning golf lesson. Bobby lets it slip to Jules (Courtney Cox!), and being the gossip queen she is, she informs the whole block. Everyone decides to ditch work and meet up at Jules' place to take refuge and get super drunk on wine (which is essentially what Cougar Town is all about) and avoid becoming Ghostface's next victim. When the men retreat to the backyard for CG's patented game, "penny can," Laurie and Kirsten wonder where Travis (Dan Byrd) is. Jules (again, that's Courtney Cox!) takes it upon herself to go all investigative journalist in the vain of her Scream counterpart, Gale Weathers, and solve the mystery herself.
According to the Scream formula, the story must push for the audience to think the killer is someone else, usually an ex-boyfriend or family member, the entire time. With Travis, Jules' son, missing in action, the accusations fly.
When Big Carl, Jules' beloved wine glass, runs dry, she suggests that Kirsten, Travis' girlfriend head out to the garage to fetch a couple bottles of red. While out in the garage, Kirsten trips over a roll of pennies and, while cursing Travis' crazy family, doesn't see Ghostface behind her. Bye, bye girlfriend, at least you didn't get squashed in the doggy door, a la the first Scream.
Meanwhile, Travis shows up and tells Bobby and Andy that in new horror movie rules, the only way to survive is to be gay. Bobby and Andy proceed to tape spare pennies to their lips and move in for a kiss. Travis takes on the movie geek role, similar to Robbie and Charlie in Scream 4 and Randy in the original Scream. He reveals more of the rules to Jules and company, which he learned watching Scream 4. For example, modern-day horror movie killers must utilize technology and film their victims. Jules then sets up webcams around the house, just as Gale does in Scream 4 to try to capture the killer.
Going back to the formula, someone must die in front of the others, on the other side of a glass-pane door. In Scream it was the boyfriend of Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore), and in Scream 4 Kirby (Hayden Panettiere) must answer the series of horror movie trivia questions in order to save Charlie (Rory Culkin). But in Screaming Cougar, night has fallen and Ghostface has captured Laurie. Then, Grayson answers all of the questions correctly and goes outside to free Laurie. After she's released, Laurie tells Grayson, he should be with her and not Jules and she repeatedly stabs him in the stomach.
So, what do you think Courtney Cox? You want to be in Screaming Cougar?
In Scream 4, the rules have changed and the party isn't the third act splatterfest finale. That's the false ending. Later in the night, the survivors reconvene at a cast member's house where the real gore truly begins. Here, several more characters get slashed; the killers reveal themselves and their master plan. It's here that Jules/Gale and whoever is left standing make the connections and viewers learn the ultimate rule - don't mess with the original.
We'll leave it at that, as with most horror movies, tying up loose ends in the plot doesn't really matter. If, like me, Scream and Cox's Gale Weathers were an integral part of your '90s, you'll likely appreciate the series reboot. Had the filmmakers forced out a sequel instead of waiting, it would probably been bad, to wit, Scream 3. Now, 11 years and a million Saw movies later, you'll be nostalgic for slasher movies past and appreciate the humor of this seemingly forgotten brand of horror.
And you'll remember that Courtney Cox wasn't always just a character in Cougar Town.
Starring Courtney Cox, David
Arquette, Neve Campbell, Emma
Roberts, Hayden Panettiere,
and Rory Culkin.
Directed by Wes Cravin.