1996; Rated R; 106 Minutes
Drew Barrymore: Casey Becker
Neve Campbell: Sidney Prescott
Skeet Ulrich: Billy Loomis
Courteney Cox: Gale Weathers
Rose McGowan: Tatum Riley
David Arquette: Deputy Dewey Riley
Matthew Lillard: Stuart Macher
Jamie Kennedy: Randy Meeks
Produced by Stuart
M. Besser, Dixie J. Capp, Cathy Konrad, Marianne Maddalena,
Nicholas Mastandrea, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein and
Cary Woods; Directed by Wes Craven; Screenwritten
by Kevin Williamson
by DAVID KEYES
is a scene in "Scream" where a horror-movie expert named
Randy explains how to successfully survive a horror movie.
He tells everyone at a party that drinking, having sex,
and other similar things are death wishes in these types
of movies. He notes that most people who say "I'll be right
back" never actually return like they said. Either they
experience some sort of sudden death, or hear sounds outside
and go to inspect them. Randy knows how horror movies work.
He is the expert in this field.
is the movie. "Scream" knows the clichés and formulas that
horror has followed over the years, and makes fun of them
every chance it gets, at the same time of producing some
new, intriguingly conepted factors of the horror formula.
In movies like "Friday The 13th," people had sex, said they'd
be right back, or drank alcohol, and all ended up dead.
It's a process that has been repeated in nearly every 'mad
slasher' that has existed since John Carpenter's "Halloween"
in 1978, and strangely enough, it took 18 long years for
that outline of horror to wear down and produce something
is the rebirth for horror as we know it. It was made by
a horror expert himself, Wes Craven, who obviously knows
how the 'slasher' formula acts and works on screen since,
after all, he did the original "A Nightmare On Elm Street"
in 1984. Along his side is a talented new writer named Kevin
Williamson, who offers us intriguing views of the horror
movie world in his script. There, the characters know how
a horror movie works, and they try to combat its clichés
as a host of murders take place in their town. The murderer,
as we learn from a scene in the beginning, is obsessed with
horror movies, and takes his love with the infamous horror
film serial killers 'one step too far...'
the mayhem and the mystery of who this killer is, there's
a large dose of satire usefully inserted into the plot.
It constructs a horror movie within a horror movie, and
contains discussions of horror and how to combat the typical
the way, of course, there are brutal, diabolical killings
showing up, all of which are constructed using a telephone
as contact. The killer stalks his victims, discusses horror
movies with them on his cellular phone, and when they hang
up, you know the rest.
this type of idealistic originality in the script that makes
the approach seem refreshing and unfamiliar. But of course,
considering what this genre has been through in the past
twenty years, the unfamiliar formulas are a blessing.
naturally, the movie does have its limits. The heroine of
the picture, played by Neve Campbell, is supposed to be
a ragged, tough, teenage girl who can survive anything.
She survived the trauma of her mother being brutally raped
and murdered a year before, and managed to survive all the
mayhem that her hometown was surrounded with by this new
killer. Yet, her character has stiff motives and a stiff
sense of bravery. She rants and raves on the phone of how
she hates horror movies, explaining that 'big-breasted women
who can't act run upstairs when they should be going out
the front door.' But somehow, moments later, the shoe seems
like it's on the other foot. She's the one running upstairs,
seeming to think she can get out of her window, yet the
killer is right on her tail and almost close enough to slice
her with his knife. Maybe that's the way Kevin Williamson,
the writer, had hoped her to react in this situation, but
if so, why have her present us this evidence of how she
hates horror movies, and how these 'big-breasted' women
should never be running upstairs? Couldn't she even take
a side or back door?
course, I could talk about the other reasons that don't
make "Scream" the normal Wes Craven masterpiece. I could
talk about the stretched ending and the typical horror clichés
still remaining in the movie, but I'll leave that up in
the air for you to decide upon. In a movie like this, there's
going to be numerous and different opinions, be they bad
I like "Scream." It breaks new ground, and hopefully, it
opens us up to new formulas and creative situations in these
movies. After twenty years of sex, drugs, saying "I'll be
right back" and getting slaughtered in the movies, at last,
here's a movie that knows these things are death wishes
and combats them.
1998, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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