There’s a bigger mystery plaguing the town of Woodsboro than who’s behind the ghostface mask in Scream 4 – it’s the case of the disappearing cast.

First Lake Bell jumped ship and yesterday we learned that Lauren Graham is out as well. Both actresses cited scheduling conflicts as the reason for their departures but Zap2it is suggesting there’s more to the story.

Apparently Ehren Kruger has been doing on-set rewrites of Kevin Williamson’s script. Kruger’s credits include the American remake of The Ring, Reindeer Games, The Skeleton Key, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and the upcoming Transformers 3. However, fans of the Scream franchise may remember him best as the guy who ruined Scream 3. Kruger was brought on board that film when Williamson became too busy with other obligations and managed to deliver a script that turned Scream 3 into the same type of film the series had originally set out to parody.

While this started out as nothing more than a rumor, the official Scream 4 Twitter page confirms Kruger’s involvement but insists that it doesn’t mean Williamson has been sent packing:

Yes, Ehren Kruger has been brought in to do a bit of polishing. But no, Williamson isn’t “out”.

Williamson is currently working on the second season of The Vampire Diaries so it seems likely they brought in a new writer simply because he was unavailable. It seems a bit premature to begin calling into question the future of the franchise like Zap2it is doing. If the script for Scream 4 needed last minute rewrites that badly, Kruger is certainly an unusual choice. His is not a name that’s going to inspire much confidence in fans. This is the guy whose original script for Scream 3 included jokes about Gale (Courtney Cox) farting when she got nervous…

What’s more, the changes Kruger has made to Scream 4 have not gone over that well with some members of the cast. Allegedly Graham, who was playing the mother of Emma Roberts‘ character, decided to leave the film after learning how dramatically her role had been reduced. Another casualty is the character played by Hayden Panettiere, who has now been “dumbed down significantly”. It seemed a little odd that the recently cast Erik Knudsen was said to be playing a role very similar to Randy’s (Jamie Kennedy) from the original trilogy, because that’s also the way they originally described Panettiere’s part.

I’m afraid the news gets a little more discouraging. Director Wes Craven tweeted back to Zap2it regarding their story and said:

“I have not been given control of the script.”

I wasn’t resistant to Scream 4 and I hate to be an alarmist, but none of this is terribly reassuring. The previous two sequels were being constantly rewritten throughout production and we all saw how well those turned out.  Halfway through Scream 2 they dropped an entire subplot about the killer(s) targeting victims with the same names as characters from the first film.  In Scream 3, the last minute tinkering resulted in the removal of all the satire and references to horror movie clichés – no big deal, seeing as how they were only the genesis of the entire franchise :-P.

How do you feel about this latest Scream 4 development? Do these eleventh hour changes make you nervous or do you think Craven and Co. can still salvage a decent film out of this?

Source: Zap2it and Twitter.