A young girl and her friends are stalked by a deranged killer in a ghost mask who likes to draw out their mental torture and suffering by calling them first and messing with their heads.
Scream‘s legacy in the horror world at this point in time is now pretty undeniable. It succeeded so well, in part, because at the time of conception, it provided a commentary on the horror/slasher genre, while at the same time still managing to be not only suspenseful but also scary.
Wes Craven should be given credit for making something that was once so mundane and commonplace on Halloween night….
…into something truly frightening. The entire opening scene, which was itself an homage to the excellent opening of the original When a Stranger Calls, has become an icon of slasher imagery, and all in a decade when the slasher had been considered all but dead (or in the very least, damn near on life support).
“You’re not ET!”
That first scene is handled so perfectly that it almost makes the rest of the movie pale by comparison. The scene is so well done that the first time you see it you’re so pumped with adrenaline that you remember why you watch horror in the first place. (When I first saw it, my friend couldn’t make it past the opening and made me TURN OFF THE MOVIE because she couldn’t handle watching it while the sun was down .) And after the disappointing slump of horror/slashers in the early 90’s you can see why the movie was so well received. Slashers were scary again and it was a beautiful feeling.
Beautiful for us. Not so much for Drew.
Building on ideas first conceived in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, it is filled with self-awareness and buckets full of ironic, snarky humor.
Also, gotta love the Nightmare references. “Well, the first one was good, but the rest stunk.” Trying to tell us something, Wes?
Thanks to this film, horror hasn’t really been the same since. Since the first installment we’ve been given similar second rate slashers with mirrored casts spouting ‘knowing’ dialogue. So what was once a refreshing breath of fresh air quickly became old and stale.
And parodied to freaking death!
Scream proves that it’s not the originality of the concept, but the skill of execution that matters. This film works because the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) winks and nods at the audience are given through the characters dialogue, not the characters themselves. Many have since tried to mimic it’s formula, but few have succeeded. If you’re a fan of slashers, and you for some reason haven’t yet seen it, than this one should be a no brainer.
“This is the moment when the supposedly dead killer comes back to life, for one last scare.” “Not in my movie.”
Scream is currently available on a variety of streaming services.
It is also available on DVD and Bluray.