Scream (1996) – Wes Craven

“Do you like scary movies?”

Horrormeister Wes Craven returns to the 101 Horror Movies list directing a script by Kevin Williamson that turned the horror genre on its head and reinvigorated it as the end of the 20th century drew near.

Working with the conceit that everyone knows how horror movies work, following a set of rules that the genre has established, Craven introduces us to the story of Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell).

Sidney, haunted by the death, one year ago, of the rape and murder of her mother, is at the center of a rash of killings as schoolmates, one after the other are murdered by a ghost-masked killer.

Right from the get-go the film takes your expectations and turns them on a dime, with the now famous scene featuring Drew Barrymore, establishing very quickly that anyone and everyone can die. It also establishes the film’s self-referential nature by having its characters as pop culture savvy as some of those viewing the film.

Williamson’s script ably directed by Craven is filled with pop culture references, humour, but some fairly generic kills. Despite the fact that the killer is in love with horror films, the kills definitely lack imagination, he’s quite happy to settle for your basic slasher kills.

The film is filled with so many fun pop culture references, including some to Craven’s previous films, that even now it makes me smile. And for the most part the film has aged way, but for the fact that the sheriff grills Billy (Skeet Ulrich), Sidney’s boyfriend, about having a cell phone. Here we are 16 years later, and it would be curious if he didn’t have one.

The cast is populated with a lot of familiar faces, my favorite being Henry Winkler as the school’s principal, but David Arquette, Courtney Cox, Rose McGowan, Matthew Lillard and Jamie Kennedy are all present as well, and each of them seem to be having a great time, being in THE horror movie about horror movies.

So much has been said about this movie in the past, that sadly, I have nothing really new to offer to the discussion. It’s still a fun film that plays wonderfully with the restrictions of its genre and does its best to break every single one of them as well.

The film is tightly paced, involving, and because of the Drew Barrymore scene, you are engaged in the film, because every one of the characters can be killed off…

I also love little things like comments about if this was a horror movie, Sidney’s dad would pop up in the last reel, or that if she was really in a horror movie Sidney would race out the front door instead of running up the stairs, and moments later, she has to do that very thing.

The film has gone on to now spawn 3 sequels (as of this writing) but, as always, the first one tends to be the best, and this one is a top-notch romp through the horror genre.

What did you think of it?

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Smellycat says:

    I LOVED, and still, Scream !! For me it will stay THE movie which changed the codes, which change the history of movies.
    Indeed, I was so surprised (and I was not the only one) that the murder was the boyfriend and the friend! Someone very close of the victim, someone we see during all the movie ! I think it was the 1st time a movie made it, and that’s why for me, Scream will stay a legend.

  2. The screenplay was so unorthodox and kept hitting us with unexpected dialogue that it made an entire new genre. Slasher-Teen-Comedy…..

    1. TD Rideout says:

      You’re absolutely right. It has since almost become a cliche, but when it was first release, it was a game-changer!

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