Good heavens, would you look at the time! Why, it’s time for a franchise! And how very topical, since Scream–which is what we’re calling the fifth movie because sure, why not–is coming out this month and I’m… um… hm. Okay, so the original plan for January was to watch movies by Mr. Ulli Lommel, who I fucking hate because he made some of the worst garbage I’ve ever seen. Then I found out that Scream was coming out on the 14th, so I canceled those plans and pivoted to the Scream franchise with the intent of wrapping it all up with the new movie. And then the Omicron variant hit and I can’t shake a stick without hitting someone who’s caught COVID in the past two weeks. In person hangouts are being trashed and the thought of going to a theater is just… it’s too risky. But I’d already watched the first two films in anticipation of this, so here we are. 2022 is off to a great start.
The first Scream was genre defining, in that it was a reexamination of the slasher movie genre. These characters may not have believed they were in a horror movie, but they had at least heard of horror moves and had an idea of what to do when a maniac with a mask and a knife is chasing you. Well, most of the characters. Some. Those that survived. At least half of those that survived. Fine, a few. Anyway, it not only examines what life in a horror movie would be like if the characters knew horror movies existed, but it draws inspirations from them. The biggest case in point is the opening sequence with Drew Barrymore–a fairly big name actress who gets killed off early–reminiscent of Psycho when the audience was led to believe Janet Leigh was the protagonist, only to have her killed in the infamous shower scene.
In the movie proper, Sidney (Neve Campbell right after playing Bonnie in The Craft) is the target of a slasher that fans know as Ghostface, named after his ghost face mask. He’s most likely the person who killed her mother one year ago, which means minor character Cotton Weary (Liev Schreiber, AKA Victor Creed in X-Men Origins: Wolverine), who is currently in jail for that murder, is probably innocent. Oops. But that’s more for later movies to deal with.
But who could the killer be? And why would they do it? The main suspects are the people close to Sidney: Her dad who went missing and whose cellphone was connected to some threatening calls is the prime suspect, but that’s too obvious, as pointed out by the movie’s resident horror film nerd, Randy (Jamie Kennedy). Oh, and he’s a suspect too. Sidney’s friend Tatum (Rose McGowan) is ruled out when she dies, not that she was really a suspect. In fact, a lot of evidence points to Sidney’s boyfriend, Billy (Bryan Ray Trout, AKA Skeet Ulrich, AKA the lovestruck idiot in The Craft). But calls from the killer were made when he was arrested, so it can’t be him, right? Well it is, helped by their friend Stu (Matthew Lillard, who is my favorite Shaggy Rogers), who is going along with all this because… um… reasons, I guess. Barrymore’s character used to date Stu, so I guess that’s why she was killed? Billy at least has some reasoning, since Sidney’s mom slept with his dad, causing his mom to abandon his family. A bit much to take revenge on her daughter after dating her for so long, but logic is second to the drama of it all. In the end Sidney barely survives while Billy and Stu die.
Oh, and Courteney Cox and David Arquette were also there. They even sometimes helped!
Scream is a lot like The Blair Witch Project in that it was pretty groundbreaking, but led to some insufferable films afterwards trying too hard to mimic its success. Ignoring the Scary Movie franchise, Scream spawned a wave of movies that just didn’t get the balance between horror and self-awareness right. It’s a much shorter list of movies that did get it right, with entries like Cabin in the Woods probably being one of the best known ones. Directly leaning into horror tropes? I see what you did there.
Next: Scream 2
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6 thoughts on “Scream (1996)”
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I think you meant “2022 is off to a great start”, which is amusingly yet another example of how it isn’t.
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