HOLLYWOOD —The buzz is already building, and it’s slated to possibly be the most anticipated sequel of 2011.  Any guesses?  For those of you still in the dark, that film is “Scream 4.”  That’s right, the franchise that revived the horror genre back in 1996 is returning with original cast members Neve Campbell (Sidney Prescott), Courtney Cox-Arquette (Gale Weathers) and David Arquette (Deputy Dewey Riley) for a brand new trilogy.  Kevin Williamson is penning the script for “Scream 4” as well as “Scream 5,” and horror vet Wes Craven returns to the director’s chair for the sequel.  So with all the cast and original key players back this film is likely to bring something fresh to the genre.

Williamson is the genius behind the first two films as well as current TV hit “The Vampire Diaries.”  He also penned the screenplay for the 1997 thriller “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ryan Phillippe and Sarah Michelle Gellar.  And no one knows the genre better than Craven who made audiences afraid to sleep with “A Nightmare onElm Street” back in 1984.

“Scream” arrived in theaters in December 1996.  While the film didn’t open up to huge box-office numbers the film had massive word of mouth buzz that spread to the public; when it was all over the film grossed more than $100 million at the box-office and reinvigorated the public’s interest in horror again.  It introduced audiences to the Ghostface villain and made answering the phone frightening.  Many believed that Drew Barrymore was the star of the film, but when she was killed in the first 10 minutes of the film it left many viewers shocked.  Since the first film, a major star or character in the series has been killed off in the opening sequence of each film.

In 1997, “Scream 2” picked up where its predecessor left off, following the survivors of the Woodsboro murders to college as they attempt to survive a psychopath who is re-enacting a real life sequel to the horrific crimes.  By now, audiences have a relationship with the major players in the series.  Sidney (Campbell) embodies a heroine that is lovable and strong, horror buff Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy) is hilarious yet informative, goofball cop Dewey Riley (Arquette) reminds us of ourselves and tenacious reporter Gale Weathers (Cox-Arquette) is fun to watch whether she’s embodying her wicked tactics or putting up a fight for survival.  The unexpected demise of Randy was a rude awakening for viewers who discovered that any of the film’s favorites could be eliminated at a given moment.  Besides the revelation that the killer was none other than Billy Loomis’s mother, Mrs. Loomis (Laurie Metcalf) indicated that the killer could practically be anyone; so everybody’s a suspect.

“Scream 3” opened several years later and prided itself as being the final chapter in the series; thereby establishing the rules of a trilogy (Chapter 1 Sets The Rules, Chapter 2 Bends the Rules, but in the finale Forget the Rules) where our remaining survivors once again find themselves being stalked by a masked killer.  Viewers were treated with the surprise return of Randy, and put on the edge of their seat with the possible demise of Sidney and Deputy Dewey who had miraculously survived several attacks in previous films.  While the film ended on a good note, it did leave the door open for another possible sequel.  So with the announcement last week that a new film is currently expected to begin shooting this spring (likely within the next few weeks) viewers are eager to learn some plot details.

While little is known about the series fourth outing, it will take place in the surviving characters’ hometown of Woodsboro.  Little is known on the status of heroine Sidney Prescott, but rumor has it that Gale and Dewey are now married.  They may have a little one as well and that Dewey is now a sheriff.  So with that large span of time since the last film and the new one anything can happen.  Williamson noted that the films survivors are expected to be joined by a new generation of younger stars who must learn the new rules of the genre.  Recently Jamie Kennedy, who portrayed Randy in the first two films, tweeted on his Twitter page “Randy Meeks Lives.”  Does that mean that Randy will be returning in the fourth film?  Guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Who will be the film’s opening death? Will the killer(s) be someone from the survivor’s past? What fresh faces will be introduced? So many questions so little answers.  Dimension Films announced that “Scream 4” will be released on April 15, 2011.  The date is already marked on my calendar as I expect it already is on many others.  Shooting for the film is rumored to be taking place in Michigan.  Are you ready to SCREAM?!