The 1996 slasher horror movie Scream was one of the smartest horror movies to be released in that decade, it bucked convention by having characters that were aware of horror movies & the many clichés that come with them. Scream worked hard to avoid these clichés & in doing so created an iconic horror movie villain in Ghostface.
Sequels that got worse helped dent its original impact & what first seemed smart & relevant ended up feeling as clichéd as the movies it referenced previously.
A TV series based on that original idea seemed like a bit of an iffy idea, I couldn’t see how a series based slasher horror could keep its momentum going across a handful of episodes let alone 10. Thankfully, I was wrong & the Scream TV show turned out to be a very good show.
The basic premise is that of a killing spree taking place in the small town of Lakewood that seemingly starts after a video of two young women kissing in a car goes viral on the internet. The town of Lakewood has a bloody history & as the series goes on it becomes clear that the two incidents might actually be linked.
The main star is Emma Duvall, a popular student who is tormented by the killer throughout. The killer is obsessed with showing her that she isn’t a good person & that her group of friends are all living a lie. It’s not just about murder but also about humiliation, the killer wants revenge for something, but what?
As the lead Emma is interesting enough even if she has seems to have lived her entire life in a bubble. Admittedly she could be any lead/victim in any slasher movie that has come before though.
The series hinged on the quality of the acting & for the most part everyone does a good job. It’s a tad unfortunate that several are walking clichés such as Noah, who begins the series strongly but ends up becoming quite one-dimensional. We get it; he knows how to do hacker stuff & likes his horror.
Alongside the main killer storyline we have several other stories playing out to mixed results. Some, like a student/teacher affair are clever enough & weaved into the main storyline in some way while others like a blackmail plot stutter & grind to a halt suddenly. The usual boyfriend/girlfriend issues are prevalent throughout but they never seem to dominate so rarely become an irritation.
What Scream manages to do well is keep you guessing…everyone is a suspect & some stage or another & some seem more obvious than others. As easy as it might be to point the finger at certain characters what isn’t so easy is to work out the motive. Over halfway through I was sure a certain character was the killer but with no real reason behind their actions it was still effectively guesswork.
By episode 8/9 if you’ve been paying attention you’ll know who the killer is & why. Even a last ditch attempt to try & lead you down a more obvious route won’t really work as it’s just far too clichéd.
Talking of which… the series acknowledges the slasher clichés of old & works at avoiding some while embracing others. It’s entertaining to a point but becomes tiresome nearer the end. It’s not clever to have a character explain several times why splitting up is a bad is then proceed to do it anyway!
The show does a good job of updating & referencing modern day life & technology. Gone are the landlines of old, now we have smartphones & apps! It makes for a more relevant watch as the killer doesn’t just tell you that he/she is watching you but sends you a video of yourself taken seconds before! It adds a new level of tension something the show manages well even during the slower episodes.
Visually the show looks nice with a decent amount of goriness, never going over the top while remaining brutal & realistic. The new mask is creepy while maintaining small similarities to the original Ghostface mask & is simple enough to believe anyone could wear it & change within seconds.
The show has some really impressive musical moments with the main violin theme being extremely memorable. It’s used to great effect in the early episodes over the discovery of a body & while characters talk.
It’s a well-paced show that builds towards a frantic finale that does unfortunately leave questions unanswered. I’m disappointed that certain loose ends weren’t tied up. This seems almost purposeful as a second season will be happening. That concerns me too…I don’t see how that could possibly work with this same set of characters, it runs the risk of becoming stale very quickly.
I expected this to be a lot worse so thoroughly enjoyed it & only really started to pick holes in certain parts of it one the final credits rolled. It’s exciting & interesting with plenty of references to the original move to give you a wry smile. Give it a go…I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Scream - Season 1