A beautiful young woman (Drew Barrymore) is stalked, manipulated, tricked, psychologically tortured, and eventually killed in the comfort of her own home. It begins with a mysterious phone-call from an unknown caller with a very manly and very scary voice; who seems peculiarly interested in horror cinema. When a film makes a few good, intentionally campy references to "Friday the 13th" and "A Nightmare on Elm Street" in the same opening sequence, you know you're looking at a satire, or perhaps homage. Maybe Wes Craven's "Scream", which opens with the scene described above, is both. I think it is. The in-references and jokes don't stop there, so it must be.
However, modern horror cinema - even when comedy is thrown into the equation - has programmed our minds to believe that horror satire taken to excess just isn't funny anymore. Craven and his screenwriter Kevin Williamson must have known this; so what they did is invent a whole new kind of charm. They went beyond excessive and explored the realms of a very educated fanboy. They made a movie that loves slasher films, and adores its genre. "Scream" is a must for just about any horror fan, as it was made for people like you and me; and such an audience will most likely appreciate it in all its gory glory. Craven is talented when it comes to making films such as this one; and it shows. His "A Nightmare on Elm Street" was rather groundbreaking and shocking when it first released; a true paranormal slasher, with creative and imaginative visual effects to seal the deal. Much like the earlier film, there's something rather surreal about "Scream"; but it doesn't lie in the visual effects. Perhaps the surrealism can be found through sheer absurdity, and there's a lot of that here. But it's all intentional, so when I say absurd, I don't mean it like I usually do; so don't walk away just yet.
Since the film takes aim at the slasher sub-genre of horror in particular, it must follow the rules and general plot elements of such films. Your basic set-up after the opening sequence is this: the recent local murder has upset the town in which it was abruptly committed, intruding in on the lives of troubled teen Sidney (Neve Campbell) and all around her. Sidney is recovering from the violent rape and murder of her poor mother; and is now living with her father, who isn't really present for most of the film. She has a close circle of friends; Tatum (Rose McGowan), boyfriend Billy (Skeet Ulrich), Stu (Matthew Lillard), and Randy (Jamie Kennedy), a video store geek who has probably seen every horror film ever made.
So Sidney has connections and people to turn to even when the murders refuse to stop, the killer is somewhat identified (by his ghostly mask, no less), and all trails appear to be leading back to her poor boyfriend, who is at once taken into custody when Sidney believes him to be the home-intruding psycho killer. She soon learns otherwise.
Even with the problems at hand, the heroine tries to have fun, like any normal teenage girl should. There's a prolonged story arc in which she and her friends attend a big party, where those attending watch horror films, drink a lot, probably smoke a lot, and are completely ignorant that the killer is amongst them. It's a classic "whodunit" set-up, but the twist is that the people know the movies that we know, and they can use their knowledge to fight for survival when the killer strikes from the darkness.
"Scream" was initially controversial for the violent content that it presented, as were many 80's slasher flicks from their time. The slasher film is one full of strong, grotesque images; most of them not used for artistic purposes. The blood-and-gore in Craven's film is really no different; but I feel it's there to make us laugh because we know it's absurd, and we know it's silly. To me, that's good filmmaking; when you can take material that everyone is familiar with and do something fresh and funny with it. "Scream" basically had me laughing from beginning-to-end; and it's a clever satirization of a genre, which luckily for me, is one that I hold dearly to me. Will those who aren't familiar with the films referenced enjoy the movie? I suppose it's possible. You don't have to be a horror buff to appreciate "Scream" the slightest bit, but the more you know, the more you get out of the experience. It's one of those horror films that exists to give us a fun ride and perhaps something more. At that, it's quite great.
The performances are appropriately campy and the film consistently appears to be winking at the audience to notice its intentional imperfections. Every plot twist is predictable, but that's what Craven wants us to realize. Perhaps he also intended "Scream" not to be as good as it is; and just something that we could enjoy for a one-night kind of thing. Nonetheless, I loved it; I will watch it many times in the future, and I'm very glad to say so. The reason I have not spoiled any of the jokes or any of the scenes is because I feel the film is clever enough for you to at least give it a chance. Just expect laughs, blood, movie references, and plenty of screams. Remember; even horror comedy has its masterpieces. And in my honest opinion, "Scream", with all its well-written dialogue and smartly fleshed-out situations, is one of them.
For someone with little knowledge of horror films, I really enjoyed this one. By reading Lord Naseby's blog on how to make a good horror film, I have figured out the basic cliches of horror films and familiarized myself with Scream, so thanks to Naseby for that. Anyway, I have figured out the main cliches, thus I know that Scream manages to sidestep a lot of them when not spoofing them. Honestly, this is probably the best spoof film ever made, mostly because Wes Craven and everyone involved … more
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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