Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Scream (1996)

(Fig 1)

'Scream' (Fig 1) opened in theaters as a very opportune and perfect time. It came at a time when horror movies had started being disregarded as a no longer profitable and viable genre due to the sheer creativity behind horror being at an all time low. Thankfully, however, 'Scream' surprised audiences everywhere and took on the film industry by storm which seems to only happen once every 10 years. It took the horror genre and turning it back on itself, transforming itself into a satire with just a hint of comedy thrown in for good measure and It's a brilliantly frightening horror film in itself. It knowingly makes fun of used-up cliches found in nearly every horror film, despite tactfully using the very cliches that it mocks. The first few minutes of Scream are arguably done as terrifyingly and as brilliantly as the shower scene from 'Psycho' or the first initial attack in Jaws, both of them iconic, well-known points in the movie and this scary opening is no different.

"Alfred Hitchcock had the gall to kill off Janet Leigh, his biggest name star in his movie, before the 30-minute mark. Drew Barrymore is the biggest star in Scream, and she's gone in 10-minutes, almost on the nose. Her getting the question wrong means death because she doesn't know enough about horror films to save herself. Plus she had the disadvantage of knowing that she was actually in a horror film." (Jeffery M. Anderson, <No Date>)

                                   (Fig 2)
Casey Becker, played by Drew Barrymore, is alone at home while making popcorn and preparing to watch a scary movie, but the phone rings only for her to be met with the voice of a stranger. She soon feels that this stranger is a lot closer than she first thought and, after a dreadful, frightening horror flick trivia game, she's soon set upon by the killer who wears a black cloak and a ghost mask (Fig 3). The imagery of Barrymore alone at home with her sweater sleeves pulled over covering her hands with the large windows behind her has become and iconic image of horror from the 1990s onward (Fig 2).

                                                                                                                    (Fig 3)
The next day, various news crews have swarmed over Casey's high school  Woodsboro High School and the media is soon knee-deep into the brutal murder. Rumors about Casey's death begin to spread and questions about the killer's identity are running rampant. Sidney Prescott (Fig 4), played by Neve Campbell, is a virginal teen, constantly being reminded about the death of her own mother many months prior. She attempts to go about living a normal life, but Gail Weathers, played by Courtney Cox, a die-hard news reporter who will do anything for the big scoop, won't let her live it down. Sidney's friends, Randy Meeks, played by Jaime Kennedy, Stu Macher, played by Matthew Lillard, Tatum Riley, Played by Rose Mcgowan and her boyfriend Billy Loomis, played by Skeet Ulrich, attempt to figure out the killer's identity by talking among one-another.

"Williamson’s use of the whodunit formula, allowing the audience to also guess the identity of the masked maniac, added an interactive element that had been absent from the slasher genre due to over familiarity of the now-iconic villains." (Christian Sellers, 2009)

The film even adds to the suspicion by having the police arrest Sidney's Boyfriend after finding him with a ghostface mask. While this goes on, the killer attacks Sidney in her own home, narrowly missing a kill as Sidney almost becomes his next victim. During the film's final act, the murderer finds the perfect opportunity for a bloodbath at a party where all of the main characters are, the most obvious choice for a crime scene climax.
                                   (Fig 4)
True, the film's plot, at first glance, is very so-so, ho-hum in the fact that it uses every single teen slasher cliche, but it is the way that the film pulls this off that makes Scream something special in the horror genre. It does not fill the film with the typical large-chested bimbo cheerleaders, dumb jocks and weedy nerdy kids that know nothing of horror, but instead every character in Scream is well-aware that, at any moment during the events taking place, any teen slasher cliche that they abide by could wind them up dead.
The dialogue is absolutely peppered with pop and modern day culture and references to other horror movies as a sort of tongue-in-cheek message that it's aware of its unoriginality  especially when Meeks is convinced that the police will be able to find the culprit of the killing spree if they had watched other horror movies. Every cliche os lovingly made fun of: The killer's victims fleeing upstairs when they, instead, should be bolting out of the front door, having sex will spell death and using the phase 'I will be right back' in a sentence is suicide.

The script allows the characters to become more than just meat bags for the killer to chop up; it is always smart dialogue and hardly ever gives the characters a chance to say something stupid. However, even with their knowledge of horror flicks, not all of them follow their own advice.

Ever since 'Scream', the horror genre seems to enjoy trying to reinvent its own genre every couple of years or so. There are dips in innovation, but slasher flicks never seem to want to die. Perhaps it's because the viewer likes to be frightened and Scream certainly delivers that fright in a new and inventive way, proving that the horror genre will continue to live on.


(Sellers, Christian, 2009) http://retroslashers.net/scream-1996-review/ (Accessed 30/10/12)

(Anderson, Jeffery M, <No Date> ) http://www.combustiblecelluloid.com/scream.shtml (Accessed 30/10/12)


Fig 1: (<No Author>, <No Date>) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0117571/  (Accessed 30/10/12)

Fig 2: (<No Author>, <No Date>) http://lanagriffin.blogspot.co.uk/2010/03/cell-phones-sexy-calls-scream-4.html  (Accessed 30/10/12)

Fig 3: (<No Author>, <No Date>) http://moviesfilmsmotionpictures.com/2010/10/30/top-ten-horror-movie-icons/  (Accessed 30/10/12)

Fig 4: (<Lewis, Maria>, <2012>) http://www.graffitiwithpunctuation.net/2012/10/15/five-star-films-16-scream-1996/  (Accessed 30/10/12)

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