Sunday April 24, 2011 15:51

Movie #0046 – Scream (1996)

Posted by Michael

Directed by: Wes Craven
Starring: Neve Campbell, Jamie Kennedy, Skeet Ulrich
Third or Fourth Viewing

Synopsis: A masked killer stalks teenagers in a small town, focusing his energy on one girl in particular.

When Scream came out in the mid-’90s, it was a shot in the arm to the then-troubled horror genre. Its sly deconstruction of slasher films, with characters who are actually aware of horror movie tropes and outright reference films like Halloween and Friday the 13th, was unlike anything people had seen up to that point. Of course, there were imitators (the Urban Legend and I Know What You Did Last Summer franchises spring to mind). For a few years after Scream came out, it seemed that every mainstream horror film was some variation on teenagers being killed by a masked villain. But Scream can hardly be blamed for unleashing a wave of inferior imitators.

Of course, Scream 4 was recently released (which is officially, and ridiculously, called Scre4m — I don’t think a single film has managed to do the numbers-in-the-title thing without looking ridiculous since Se7en), which is why I decided to revisit the original. I have since also rewatched the sequels, as well as heading out to the theatre to see part four. My quick thoughts — part two wasn’t as good as the first one, but it was actually pretty close. Three was vaguely watchable but pretty mediocre and the worst of the series by far. Four was definitely a step up from three, but not as good as one or two.

I think one of the reasons that Scream is remembered so fondly is that it opens so damn well. Even having seen it a couple of times, I was struck by just how effective, suspenseful and downright compelling the opening to the film is. Wes Craven’s direction and Kevin Williamson’s crackling dialogue are pretty much perfect, and make for a scene that I think even detractors of the film would have to admit is quite memorable.

The rest of the movie is good of course, though it does have a hard time living up to that opening (and it never really does). It’s entertaining, suspenseful in parts, and the aforementioned self-aware dialogue definitely sets the movie apart and makes it more than just another generic slasher film. It’s also fairly well acted — in particular, Jamie Kennedy steals every scene he’s in as the film-loving Randy. I remember first watching Scream and thinking “this guy is going to be big!” Sadly, that didn’t quite work out — Kennedy was never able to find another role that fit him quite as well as Randy (which is actually true for much of the cast of this film).

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