Review No. 598
This is how a horror movie should be looked at.
Director — Wes Craven
Producers — Cathy Konrad, Cary Woods
Screenplay — Kevin Williamson
David Arquette — Dewey Riley
Neve Campbell — Sidney Prescott
Courteney Cox — Gale Weathers
Matthew Lillard — Stu Macher
Rose McGowan — Tatum Riley
Skeet Ulrich — Billy Loomis
Drew Barrymore — Casey Becker
Featuring Roger L. Jackson as the voice of Ghostface.
Distributor — Dimension Films
Release Date — December 20, 1996
Language — English
Country — USA
Running Time — 1 hour, 51 minutes
MPAA — — STRONG GRAPHIC HORROR VIOLENCE AND GORE, AND FOR LANGUAGE.
SCREAM WAS WATCHED ON AUGUST 31, 2013.
Scream has the plot of a horror movie, but very rarely does it approach the genre seriously. In fact, it does so humorously. There’s a reason we see the first scene so elaborately: it’s such a great scene because it sets up the rest of the movie as a total deconstruction of the horror genre. The exaggeration is almost impossible to scout out, but it’s so much fun, and that what makes the rest of the movie so fun.
You could swear the movie was written by Wes Craven. The approach is clever in the same ways it’s twisted, but it veers more toward clever. (In fact, the most self-indulgence there is is a fleeting mention of A Nightmare on Elm Street and how awful the non-Craven sequels were.) These characters all know they’re inside a movie, because what’s happening around them only happens in horror movies. I’m not saying serial killers aren’t real, but when there’s a Ghostface Killer that murders Drew Barrymore–her character, that is–and gets news reporters interested (watch where they report live from), it’s difficult not to think of Halloween and Michael Myers. I mention this because it’s in the film, and in fact, Craven parallels John Carpenter’s “babysitter killings” finale with his own extraordinarily with the entire climax. Note that Halloween was the first mainstream teen slasher, so the implication is that they’re all the same. It’s just more wittily implied.
Occasionally, the movie can get too much in love with its comic side. I don’t blame screenwriter Kevin Williamson for this, since I’d do the same thing. He doesn’t embrace any clichés (something I’d also probably do), and it’s a miracle considering how freely written Scream is. The idea is to make light of a genre that suffers so continuously, and it feels curiously sympathetic in this, as well. How much you enjoy Scream depends on how much you appreciate the horror genre. The characters are already developed. They’re just waiting to be looked at…well, inside-out!