Tuesday, April 12, 2011

An Ode To Scream

I'll admit there's nothing original about this post. Yes, these are my thoughts on the Scream Trilogy on the heels of Scream 4's release. Lots of people are doing this but I've really enjoyed reading about the impact of this little movie on different people of different ages.

I was 11 when the first movie came out. I remember thinking how important that movie felt. I was only really just getting into horror movies and Scream provided a vocabulary with which to get through all the Friday the 13ths, Halloweens and Nightmare On Elm Streets. (which I did before I was 12) Granted it did give away a lot of spoilers but I genuinely thought these characters were cool, they spoke a secret language which was infinitely cooler than what I was saying. Also, they survived because of it. And who doesn't like living? Hell, despite my student loans I still like it.

The tropes that had become parodied within the genre were given a new life by Kevin Williamson's script. Scream still holds up and keeps the tongue-and-cheek tone while maintaining some truly scary moments. I still shiver a bit whenever I get near a garage door.

And oh, the first 15 minutes! They redefined the horror genre. It's a stand alone moment of truly eerie vulnerability and my favourite performance by Drew Barrymore. Scream created iconic moment after iconic moment. While it never scared me in the way something like The Ring or Pet Sematary did, it's an incredibly fun and suspenseful ride that deals with the sins of the parent and self-fulfilling prophecies.

Then Scream 2 and Scream 3 came out. They were... I guess underwhelming is the most polite phrase I can use. The cast were made up of a who's who of WB series and lacked any real importance. For a movie that aspires to comment on the inadequacies of a genre it gets a bit boring after a while. The series became its own beast relentlessly riffing on the failures of other horror films while falling prey to them. The monotonous and never ending red-herrings are pointless and boring. A true case for the fact that lightening does not strike twice. Once Dimension realized what a hit the Scream franchise would be the subsequent films seem to have gotten lost in endless gimmicks. 

That's not to say I didn't get excited when they announced Scream 4. Maybe they would realize the error of their ways and give Williamson and Craven their freedom back. But recently both Williamson and Craven have come out denouncing their input into the film. I fear we may have another Scream 3 on our hands.

And what's the harm in that? I think the harm is the loss of potential. Look at the mass of blog, websites, documentaries, books, film classes and God knows what else that deal in discourse about our beloved genre. At worst Scream 4 will miss an opportunity to look at the impact of media on violence, which is a discussion worth having, but only from people who know what they are talking about.


  1. I know what you mean about feeling like Scream was an important movie. I was 19 and well-versed in slashers, but there was a general sense that the genre was dead. Then Wes Craven provided the antidote for what his own creation (Freddy) had become. He blew everybody away with an original slasher that was mad scary, and had production values that put most of the classics to shame. I want to say Scream revitalized the genre, but really, it just got studios churning out inferior product.

  2. Agreed! I caught a couple minutes of I Know What You Did Last Summer on tv a while back and the only good thing that came of that was Jennifer Love Hewitt's 5 minute singing career.