Scream introduced the prolific director Wes Craven (A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Hills Have Eyes) to a new generation and breathed new life into the slasher genre, indeed Scream 2 was the first slasher film and second real horror film that I watched and got me hooked on horror films. Scream starts as it means to go on with an explosive and powerful scene in which Casey (Drew Barrymore, E.T) and her boyfriend (Kevin Patrick Walls, Blade) are brutally murdered by a masked figure. It was unusual at the time for a director to kill off arguably the most famous star so early in the film.
The rest of the film follows Sidney Prescott, a high school student played by Neve Campbell (The Craft, Wild Things) and her friends who include her boyfriend, Billy (Skeet Ulrich, As Good as it Gets), her airhead best friend Tatum (Rose McGowan, Charmed), Randy (Jaime Kennedy, Three Kings) and Stu (Matthew Lillard, Thir13n Ghosts). It soon becomes clear that Sidney is the target of the killer and there is a connection to the brutal murder of Prescott’s mother a year ago. All the action taking place in Woodsboro covered by the no nonsense, no holds barred reporter Gail Weathers, played by Courteney Cox (Friends), a particularly unlikeable character.
Whilst Scream is a serious film, the action is tongue in cheek, referencing multiple other horror films, including a janitor dressed called Freddy dressed like the villain from A Nightmare on Elm Street). It even goes so far as Randy, espousing about the formula of who is the killer and what’s going to happen next and others discussing who would play each other if a film was made of the murders and the rules of how to stay alive in a horror film. The rules are: You can never have sex, you can never drink or do drugs and never, ever, ever under any circumstances say, “I’ll be right back,” because you won’t be back and everyone is a suspect. To be fair to Craven, the film sticks to its own rules! It also has all the classic slasher film shots found in earlier films, dark figures lurking by hedges and reflections in a corpse’s eyes.
The action is kept up throughout the film and the special effects are good, plenty of blood (as expected in a slasher flick) with a great sound track including the screaming violins and ominous slashing noises from a pair of innocent scissors which made me chuckle. Scream keeps you guessing right to the end about who the killer is and if you can guess the first time you are doing better than most (unless you’ve cheated and Googled it)! What is particularly good about the killer in Scream is that they are a bit inept adding a human element, unlike some of the supernaturally strong killers found in earlier slasher films such as Elm Street or Friday 13th. Indeed, Scream has found its way into the public consciousness and most people would recognise the ghost mask even if they hadn’t seen the film. If you haven’t seen it I would recommend watching it (and then watch Scary Movie, an almost scene for scene parody made in 2000).
Fun Fact: The killers iconic black outfit with white mask was originally all white but was changed as it was worried it may have been associated with the Ku Klux Klan.