Wes Craven died. It’s one of those names that’s so familiar for me that you would think he never dies. I owe a lot of my love for horror to the director behind movies like The Last House on the Left, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream. In fact, the first time I rented a VHS tape (yes, I am that old) it was the Scream sequel. In awe I watched Jada Pinkett-Smith getting killed in front of a packed movie theatre, I was in shock when Sarah Michelle Gellar was thrown off a house and couldn’t believe my eyes when the killer(s?) was exposed. What was this film and why did it resonate with me?
For different reasons actually and one was definitely the guy behind the camera. Craven made films that actually scared people but also reflected on their own lives. How much he was in touch with a young audience is really special to me and that’s exactly the thing that added to my life as I was growing up. Even coming from a time when Scream was released, he did the same for another generation growing up when Elm Street scared the hell out of people.
His work was defining for the horror genre as well. There’s his gruesome work like The Hills Have Eyes, his tense work like Red Eye and his era-defining, genre-twisting work like Scream. For years I’ve been telling people to watch Scream 4, which in my opinion is the best sequel to the original. It was also the last film Craven ever directed.
Craven expressed his worries about the horror genre several times and was hoping for young makers to stand up and make a movie that came from their hearts. He said: “The first monster you have to scare the audience with is yourself” and it’s as easy as that (or as difficult, depends on how hard it is for a director to mirror his dark side in his work).
There was only one Wes Craven and he will live on as a legend forever. Here was a director who added something to horror and impacted my life with his work. There’s only a handful of filmmakers who have, until now.