Folks who aren’t fans of horror often cite the lack of believability in horror as their primary gripe. To me, the fake melodrama and idiotic decisions by the main character actually add to the attraction. However, it’s a nice change of pace once in awhile to turn the tropes of slasher films on their heads and shake up the genre a bit.
In recent years, mocking your own genre has become a trendy thing to do in cinema. Films like The Cabin in the Woods and Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon have slithered into the spotlight and reminded horror fans that there are still opportunities for original, gorey films to grace the silver screen.
However, in terms of 90s horror movies, many of them presented a sort of paint-by-numbers scare experience and fell completely flat. Fortunately, one director decided to throw out the rulebook and start from scratch and seemed to have had one hell of a fun time doing it.
Wes Craven’s Scream follows Sidney Prescott, portrayed by a young Neve Campbell, as she and her friends are relentlessly preyed upon by a knife-wielding maniac in a mask known only as Ghostface.
From the very first, unforgettable scene with Casey (Drew Barrymore) and her football star boyfriend spilling buckets of their own blood and entrails, Wes Craven found a way to grab the audience’s attention in a vice grip and refuse to let go. The intensity of this scene is palpable and it’s obvious why it has been made a permanent part of pop culture.
The main storyline treads familiar territory purposefully, but it relishes every opportunity to poke fun at the slasher genre’s cliches and conventions. The dialogue is never heavy-handed and instead comes off as cleverly self-referential. The best bit of dialogue in the film comes from Jamie Kennedy’s character, Randy, as he explains all the things you shouldn’t do in a horror movie situation in order to survive until the final scene. This bit includes things like drugs, pre-marital sex and how they’re punished when a character is placed in the world of a slasher film.
The kills are all gratifying, albeit predictable and there’s plenty of gore to go around. Those with that overwhelming sense of bloodlust will not be disappointed. Add to that the engaging performances of all the lead characters and a heavy dose of slapstick fun and you’ve got the makings of a classic.
Wes Craven’s Scream is a bloody fun affair and comes highly recommended from a fan of the genre.