Scream (1996) – Film Review

Horror began to parody itself with Wes Craven's Scream...

When it appeared it 1996 Scream defied countless horror conventions – it wasn’t only teenage girls who were fearing for their lives…

…it slyly dug at its predecessors and peers and, most importantly, the characters were all sarcastically aware of horror movie rules. As laid out by the film’s characters these rules are;

1. You will not survive a horror movie if you have or have had sex
2. You will not survive a horror movie if you drink or do drugs
3. You will not survive a horror movie if you say ‘I’ll be right back’
4. Everyone is a suspect
5. You will not survive a horror movie if you ask ‘who’s there?’
6. You will not survive a horror movie if you go out to investigate a strange noise.

In laying out the rules Scream manages to either quash or exaggerate most of the given laws. Although it seems to be the done thing in films now to voice the loopholes in horror films and criticise the obvious lapses in judgement of ‘stupid’ characters from ‘stupid’ scary movies, Scream led the way and its subtle blend of parody, humour and slasher movie horror is perfect. Instead of stupidly parodying other horrors like the many films that have followed (the Scary Movie franchise being the prime example) Scream intelligently made it obvious that it was a film very much aware of itself.

A year after ** Prescott was murdered a stint of murders begin to take place in her daughter’s neibourhood. Phoning the victims before brutally murdering them the killer begins to slowly pick off high school students. As the murders intensify Sidney, **’s daughter, is hounded by news reporters (namely Gale Weathers, played by Courtney Cox who met her future husband David Arquette on set) and keeps finding herself barely escaping the grasp of the malicious killer. Suspicions abound and there seems there is little else to do to stave off worrying about the murders than to attend a party thrown by one of her friends.

The killer is an obvious movie-buff and this makes for engaging dialogue. Replacing the overdone dialogue-free chase-scenes of hundreds of horrors before it, Scream injects references aplenty to keep the audience entertained when no-one is being or about to be killed. The scenes in the film have now become that of horror movie folklore as has the mask which, with it totally obscuring the killer’s identity, has joined the likes of Freddy and Jason in recognisability.

Making great use of the cell phone revolution the film intensified its subject matter by making the new must-have accesory part of the bogeyman’s arsenal. The fact that use of caller ID went up threefold after the release of the film underlines its potency.

Its cast holds a barrage of familiar faces, most familiar perhaps being Drew Barrymore who receives a dreaded phone call as the film opens. Will she out-live her popcorn? Only time (and her movie knowledge) will tell. Incorporating comedy in a much more tasteful fashion than its successors Scream is an enjoyable horror romp.

Best bit: The opening scene is probably the most memorable of the whole film – watch as the popcorn goes from bad to worse… and things don’t look much better for Drew Barrymore.
Best performance: David Arquette as Dewey
Watch this if you liked: Scary Movie

Gore Factor: 6 / 10 – a bit more mundane than the gore the noughties bought with them but the use of 50 gallons of blood during production is nonetheless impressive whilst some of the character’s deaths are pretty gruesome.
Spine-chill factor: 5 / 10

Watch out for a cameo from Linda Blair, star of The Exorcist.

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