Scream (1996), or Don’t Look Behind You! It’s A Horror Movie Geek!

27 01 2009
Do You Like Scary Movies? ...Oh, you dont? Well, I guess nevermind then...

"Do You Like Scary Movies? ...Oh, you don't? Well, I guess nevermind then..."

90’s Week returns with a vengeance, like a screaming phoenix wearing flannel and ripped jeans. I know you missed it. Well, here I am with the first entry of a slasher into our 365-movie project. I think a lot of us have seen this one. Scream was one of the biggest horror movies of the 90’s, and it completely revitalized its own stagnant genre. Nobody was interested in a tired rehash of the same old slasher formula: teenagers having fun+underage drinking+making whoopee+big unbalanced guy+brutal arsenal of weaponry=OWWWW! Great formula, and I certainly hadn’t tired of it, but it might have been time for a 90’s makeover for the kids and teens. And what is the one thing 90’s kids and teens were best at? If you said being ultra-snarky and too hip for their own skin, you’re right!

The fact is that this movie’s structure is really more of a murder mystery than a slasher. A teenager named Casey is brutally murdered by a sadistic killer who calls her before he kills her and asks her horror trivia (on a cell phone! Probably the first time one has been used as a major plot device! It’s a big, clunky one too; it must weigh at least 5 pounds!!!). Weird, huh? Well, forget about that first teenager. We never see her again. Fuck it. Let’s start this movie over again. A teenager named Sidney is attacked one night on the anniversary of her mother’s own death. Her attacker is the same fellow with the same modus operandi; he calls her, taunts her, then attacks. She survives, but it seems like more and more people around her keep dying. They’re all being murdered by the same horrible person in a black robe and a mask contorted into a permanent scream. She thinks she might know who did it, but the evidence keeps thwarting her at every turn. Can she uncover the killer’s identity before he kills again, before she is next to die?

The story is intriguing for it being about a bunch of dumb teenagers. There are all sorts of twists and turns, red-herrings and McGuffins, and a surprise ending. But what everyone really remembers about this one is the fact that it was self-aware. That’s right. All of the characters had seen horror movies before. One character is even a horror movie fanatic. Everyone makes references to Halloween, A Nightmare On Elm Street, and even The Thing With Two Heads. Everyone understands the rules of the horror genre, and the dialog is actually pretty funny with that knowledge.

The cast is a bunch of pretty-boys and pretty-girls who never went on to do much work I was interested in, but if you’re a fan of Skeet Ulrich and David Arquette, this is the film for you. The star, Neve Campbell, was someone I really expected to go places, but she hasn’t done a whole hell of a lot and that is a shame. But here she performs admirably, which is more than I can say for Matthew Lillard and Courtney Cox. But it’s a horror movie; what did you expect?

John Carpenter is one of the greatest horror directors of all time.

Seriously, that’s all I have to say about that. He’s amazing. I’ll save my long, drawn-out fangasm about him for later.

The main drawback for me is that for a horror movie, there are no characters I can honestly say I would be upset about if they died. You should always save one person you care about at the end so that it matters if they are hurt. As an audience, we want to pull for somebody, even if they do not make it. I like nobody here. I couldn’t even name more than a few characters. Sure, it’s a horror movie and they’re expendable, but everybody I like they set up to kill in a matter of moments. It’s not fair and its almost not fun. Especially because the main cast is so snarky and self-assured and pompous and young that, if anything, it makes you want to kill them yourself.

But still, all in all, a good show. Great director+good script+lame cast=decent. I won’t dwell on this one too much because everyone who hasn’t seen it should discover this one for themselves and everyone who has seen it has seen it about 50 times and doesn’t want to be bothered with it again. So a good 90’s flick if you are a fan of the horror genre, and an important one if you follow the genre’s history as it revitalized the waning sub-genre of slashers. I give Scream 7 5-pound cell phones out of 10.

Tomorrow’s the last day of 90’s Week, folks! I got a surprise for you! Don’t peek until tomorrow!