Sunday, October 18, 2015

Scream (1996)

Scream (USA, 1996) - Color, Director(s): Wes Craven
MPAA Rating: R
[UK: 18]
Approx. 111 min.

Z-rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Cheese Factor: 2 stars out of 5

Alongside A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream stands as one of Craven's crowning achievements. During a time when the popularity of horror was waning, Scream reinvigorated interest in the genre while simultaneously spawning a new wave of self-aware teen horror flicks like I Know What You Did Last Summer, Urban Legends, Final Destination, and even sequels to existing franchises like Bride of Chucky and Halloween: H20. Written by aspiring screenwriter Kevin Williamson, the project almost had a different director because Craven was tied up in the production of The Haunting. Other directors who were approached included Danny Boyle, George A. Romero, Robert Rodriguez, and Sam Raimi. Up to this point, horror movies had typically been populated by a cast of unknown actors due to their smaller budgets and critics often snubbing the genre as a whole. When Drew Barrymore read the script, she approached the development team personally to request a role. Her involvement is believed to have attracted other popular actors and ultimately led to Craven's decision to direct the film.

Due to other obligations, Barrymore could not play Sidney Prescott as she was originally cast so she was given a reduced role instead. [Spoiler Warning] As a result, she was killed off at the beginning of the film which came as a huge shock to audiences who probably expected her to be the lead. Craven had previously played around with the idea of a self-aware horror movie in New Nightmare where the actors were essentially becoming their characters. In Scream, the characters are aware of the "rules" of horror movies and even openly mocked the clich├ęs while the movie subverted them. As much as they poked fun at the conventions of horror films, specifically slashers, they almost had to follow those same rules to survive.

Kids, this was called a "video rental store" where you would go to rent movies for $3/day.

The idea that the killer isn't some supernatural baddie but some kid you go to school with, wearing a mask anyone can buy at a Halloween store, just made you believe it could happen anywhere. Everyone started getting caller ID after that. Funny, this movie doesn't feel that old (even though its 20th anniversary is coming up) but you can see how much technology has changed over the years. There's a scene where Sidney is attacked by the killer and moments later, her boyfriend climbs through the window. While consoling her, his cell phone falls out of his pocket and she immediately runs downstairs to get away from him. If that happened today, no one would think twice about it but the cell phone was supposed to be a dead giveaway that he was the killer. In fact, while watching that scene again recently, it took me a moment to process what was happening.

Exhibit A. If that's a Nokia, it could've been used to bludgeon someone to death!

Nudity: None. I've come to realize that Wes Craven's films don't typically feature a lot of nudity. Although he did direct an adult film under the pseudonym of Abe Snake!

Gore: There was a lot of blood and even some disembowelings, as expected from a slasher film.

Awesome: Very. This movie was extremely popular when I was in middle school. I remember watching it over a dozen times over the summer when I was visiting my family in Vancouver. Everyone's tried doing their best impression of the voice changer while asking "What's your favorite scary movie?" at least once over the phone. This film is as much a love letter to slashers as it is a satire of its tropes. As much as it tries to lampoon the classic slasher films, this movie has become iconic in its own rights. The film was so successful that it spawned three sequels and most recently, a TV series on MTV. Scary Movie even launched its own franchise parodying this and other horror movies. (Fun fact: the original title for this film was Scary Movie during development but Bob Weinstein changed it to Scream shortly before its release)

For the official trailer, click here: