Scream (1996)

Rating 18

Length 1Hr 51

Release 2.5.1997

About Wes Craven re-invented and revitalised the slasher-horror genre with this modern horror classic, which manages to be funny, clever and scary, as a fright-masked knife maniac stalks high-school students in middle-class suburbia. Craven is happy to provide both tension and self-parody as the body count mounts – but the victims aren’t always the ones you’d expect.


First Thoughts

I saw the sequel before I saw this one. Watching it while playing Cluedo. So when I came to watching the film that started the franchise, I thought perhaps the suspense would be ruined.

Treat

  • It’s a meta horror feast complete with Easter egg visuals and references, but it does also work as a movie in its own right. By that, I mean that I watched it back in 1998 which minimal knowledge of the genre and it didn’t hinder my enjoyment. There’s the obvious (Halloween) and there’s the subtle (Billy’s surname being Loomis).
  • There’s a clear victim that becomes the focus, but this is very much an ensemble movie which allows this film to be more than your typical slasher. After all, everyone’s a suspect.
  • Skeet Urlrich must have been cast for his resemblance of Depp in Nightmare. It’s scary how much he looks like Johnny Depp and it certainly helps the audience believe that he’s innocent. Until of course he goes all psycho on us in the final act.
  • The opening scene and its Psycho connection is a multi layered reference. The film opens up to child star Drew Barrymore, a relatively known name at the time. She appears on the promotional material, making you think that she’s a lead in Scream. However, taking her last scream in the first 12 minutes is not dissimilar to Janet Leigh’s role in Psycho. A well used tactic like this would undoubtedly put the audience on edge from the start.
  • Neve Campbell’s Sidney is a Scream Queen hybrid; she’s the wholesome youngster with that innocent vibe, however, she’s traumatised and holds her own to almost stand apart from the Queens of Halloween and Elm Street. Having her call Ghostface’s bluff upon receiving her first phone call is something an audience would like to think they would do when faced with a situation like this and it’s Sidney’s seemingly unrelated back story that allows the audience to believe that she is just that tired of this kind of shit.
  • The music and score are on point. From Red Right Hand, School’s Out and Drop Dead Gorgeous to the incorporation of Halloween’s score and it’s own original score, the film uses music to foreshadow and further support the subversion of the genre.

Trick

  • Dewey ruins a lot of the scenes he’s in. There’s a comedic element to the film and there’s no doubt about that. However, Arquette really does make me wonder how Dewey graduated from high school, let alone gained his police badge.
  • The film’s success gave birth to a resurgence of the spoof movie, starting with Scary Movie. The problem with these types of films is that they take it a million steps too far and root the narrative in current culture that ensures the references lose all impact by the time they reach dvd sales. They are the Primark or movies: disposable fashion that falls apart not too long after you bought it. Yeah, thanks Scream for Epic/ Date/ Disaster Movie, we really needed those in our lives.
  • While Courtney Cox gives a surprise, and solid, performance as bitch reporter Gail Weathers, it’s a character that suffers in hindsight by the sequels. Much like her face, Cox’s performances because ridged and tiresome. The woman Cox portrays here is a character, whereas when we meet her in Scream 3, she’s a caricature that has melded into Cox’s shouty Monica performance. It makes this encore viewing a little bitter.

Final Thoughts

A film that can be watched on many levels and is ageing much better than its sequels.

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2 thoughts on “Scream (1996)”

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