Scream (1996) Review: Wes Craven’s Classic
“Solving This Mystery Is Going To Be Murder.”
Synopsis: A year after the murder of her mother, a teenage girl is terrorized by a new killer, who targets the girl and her friends by using horror films as part of a deadly game.
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Wes Craven‘s Scream was one of the first, if not THE first, horror movies I ever saw. As such, it holds a special place in my scream cabinet – one that’s weird and sort of confusing. I remember being terrified of the movie at whatever tender young age I first watched it, and even swore off horror movies for a few years. But watching it as an adult, with the benefit of hundreds of horror movies under my belt, is such a different experience. As a kid, I missed most of the jokes and sly nods towards other movies, and the visual gags weren’t reassuring enough to outweigh my fear. So in a lot of ways, I feel like I’ve watched two different Screams – one a horror film, one a comedy.
The horror: Psychopaths wielding sharp objects on a wacky revenge spree is pretty banal to me now, but being stalked by a killer is a horror trope for a reason. Sidney (Neve Campbell) doesn’t know why she’s being singled out or who’s after her, and even though the police get involved very early on, she’s still clearly in danger. Though the costumed killer showing up in daylight stretches belief a bit, the sense of omnipresence it imparts still keeps the atmosphere creepy.
The comedy: Scream isn’t above poking fun at its own expense. Not only does it give the nod to a number of classic horror movies, it blatantly toys with audience expectations. It’s hard not to enjoy being told the rules of horror movies, or the use of a stovetop popcorn tray as a timer. Scream as a comedy is sassy, and wants you to know it.
All in all, I’m glad I still enjoy Scream. I wish it still scared me, but even viewing it as more of a snarky comedy, it’s a fun watch.
Calamity Brains’ Rating: B
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