Considered to be responsible for the revitalisation of the horror genre after it had been dying out because of so many poorly received sequels & straight to video releases. Scream’s impact has been dented by age but its importance within the horror scene can’t be understated. A movie that made fun of the many clichés that most horror had become reliant on. Even as the numerous sequels that followed descended in parodies of the original.
Helped by a strong & well-known cast (Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Skeet Ulrich, Drew Barrymore), directed by the legendary Wes Craven & with an incredible score by Marco Beltrami. Scream may not have aged well but it still entertains with a smartly told story.
The movie opens with high school student, Casey (Drew Barrymore) receiving a call at home from an unknown person. It’s a flirty call about scary movies that quickly turns sinister as the caller turns nasty & threatens to kill her. The caller reveals that he has her boyfriend hostage & wants to play a game where he asks her questions about horror movies.
When Casey gets one wrong (who was the killer in the original Friday the 13th?) her boyfriend is killed so she refuses to play along anymore. She is then attacked by a figure in a mask (the now infamous Ghostface). She almost gets away as her parents arrive home but is caught & killed then hung from a tree.
It’s a fantastic opening that is exciting, shocking & extremely violent.
The movie then introduces Sidney (Neve Campbell) as the media descends upon the town following the murder. It’s particularly hard for her as it’s almost the one-year anniversary of her mother’s murder. This latest killing has brought back bad memories for her even though the murderer was supposedly caught.
Sidney has tried to get on with her life but her relationship with her boyfriend, Billy (Skeet Ulrich) isn’t too healthy anymore. Then she gets a call like Casey had & is attacked by the mask wearing killer. She manages to fight the attacker off but the game is just beginning for Sidney & her friends.
Scream is a slasher horror that pokes fun at the genre while remaining extremely violent & gory. All while having an interesting plot that ends in a satisfying payoff. The identity of the killer is kept hidden well with their being numerous threads leading to a large number of suspects.
The Ghostface mask is a simple & iconic image, yet for all its terrifying mystery the person under it is still a human being. This results in victims often fighting back & hurting the killer. The simple idea of having a psychotic killer knocked over & get hurt really adds quite a lot to the mystique. Especially when we see just how brutal the killings can be.
With a cast this big it would be easy for many to get lost in the shuffle. However, the uniqueness of the performances especially with characters that are a bit bland means almost everyone stands out in their own way. Be it Neve Campbell’s innocence, Jamie Kennedy’s horror obsessiveness, Courteney Cox’s selfishness or Matthew Lillard’s oddball behaviour. Some of their conversations & dialogue can come across forced & cheesy but for the most part they are believable & fun to watch.
Expertly filmed with a score that is sublime in building & sustaining atmosphere, Scream is a thrill ride that rarely disappoints. Watching it in 2017…it shows its age thanks mainly to the pop-culture references (Ricki Lake!?) but as a slasher horror it holds up really well & is still very entertaining!