The FBI estimates there are currently over 300 active serial killers in the United States. What would happen if these killers had a way of communicating and connecting with each other? What if they were able to work together and form alliances across the country? What if one brilliant psychotic serial killer was able to bring them all together and activate a following? That’s the premise of The Following, Screamwriter Kevin Williamson’s new tv series starring Kevin Bacon and, among others, Scream 4‘s Nico Tortorella.
Kevin Williamson’s Columbine-jettisoned ideas for Scream 3 broke the mold of previous films. Instead of one killers or two killers, or even one-upping into a trio of killers, the plan was to have the whole group of new teen characters carry the Ghostface legacy, masterminded by a still-alive Stu in jail. Sadly we got Scott Foley as a deranged spoiled Hollywood brat instead.
The writer rarely dismisses great unused ideas, instead he transplants them (for example, the suspenseful crashed car sequence in Scream 2 was originally written for I Know What You Did Last Summer). His original Scream 4 opening scene idea hinted at a chain of killers, which was again scuttled, but a seed was planted. Even the close-to-shooting script contained evidence toward the idea, with the murderous Jill surviving as a national hero with a not-quite-dead Sidney set to out her in the cliffhanger. Although he hasn’t come out and said it, it’s no stretch to see where this was going in Scream 5 – Jill in jail, controlling or inspiring a group of apprentice Ghostfaces.
“I don’t need friends. I need fans.”
Jill’s motivation of gaining a following could have, ironically, greatly furthered much more once she was implicated and incarcerated than if her misjudged plan to steal Sidney’s hero status carried through. It wouldn’t be the first time Williamson has explored themes like this – ex-con Cotton Weary was chasing his 15 minutes of celebrity status in Scream 2. The story was very much headed in this direction.
Except Dimension Films decided to kill Jill. Whoops.
So now for the third time, Williamson’s pet idea had been axed. What’s a writer to do? Take it elsewhere. Hello The Following. Expect numerous Scream references in the show – even direct lines like “he wants to finish what he started” and a police officer’s “didn’t mean to scare ya”. Ready for some primer videos? This trailer is a good place to start.
And here’s a behind-the-scenes video where Kevin Williamson talks up his show.
The Following premieres in the USA 9/8c January 21 on Fox. Will you be there?