Saturday, June 11, 2016

My Review of Scream (1996)

Written by Kevin Williamson
Directed by Wes Craven

Ghostface: "What's your favourite scary movie?"

So, it's been nearly twenty years since the release of this movie. In that time we've had three sequels and two seasons of an MTV show that doesn't quite the same bite as this impressive debut from 1996. This movie may owe a lot to previous horror movies but it also helped to redefine the genre back in the late 1990s as well.

Set in the fictional town of Woodsboro, it's been a year since the tragic and gruesome murder of Maureen Prescott and a killer given the nickname of Ghostface (Roger Jackson) by a later victim opens the movie with the gruesome deaths of high school sweethearts Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore) and Steven Orth (Kevin Patrick Walls) and from there on in, it's a bit of a bloodbath.

The female protagonist of the movie is a girl named Sidney Prescott, played by Neve Campbell and the daughter of the tragically killed Maureen. Sidney believed that Cotton Weary (Liev Schrieber) was her mother's killer but with the arrival of Ghostface trying to murder Sidney and her friends at every turn. There's also the teaming up of media hack/journalist Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) and earnest deputy Dewey Riley (David Arquette) with the former convinced that Sidney falsely identified her mother's killer a year prior.

This franchise has always relied on the triumvirate of Campbell, Cox and Arquette and all three are naturally the standouts in a movie that has more than enough of them. Campbell gives Sidney a warmth and depth with her classic final girl, Sidney Prescott while the pairing of Gale and Dewey has been one of the most enduring movie partnerships we've had in the last few decades.

As a killer, Ghostface has managed to become as successful and as iconic as the likes of Michael Myers, Freddie Krueger, Leatherface and Jason Voorhes to name a few and in this movie, it's revealed the killers are Sidney's boyfriend, Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) and his somewhat dim witted friend, Stuart (Matthew Liliard) and while only one of them has an actual motive, the two of them certainly made for a deadly double act which Sidney then ended up taking out herself.

As for other characters, Rose McGowen's character, Tatum got some fame by being the one to label the killer Ghoistface and while she had some quippy comments and a good point about sexism, Tatum isn't a character that really steps out of the supportive best friend to the final girl role while Jamie Kennedy's Randy Meeks is great for exposition and movie trivia/rules. Both however are extremely fun characters to watch and have more life to them than later supporting characters as well.

- The original title for this movie was Scary Movie. Another franchise would take on that title though.
- There's some great music for this movie, including Gus's cover version of Don't Fear The Reaper.
- Randy's rules to survive include being a virgin, not drinking/doing drugs, never saying I'll be right back and everyone's a suspect.
- Ghostface's general look is largely based on a certain painting and the costume was originally meant to be white instead of black.

The start of a mostly solid movie franchise, the first Scream certainly played homage to horror movies past while doing a lot to influence future horror movies and television programmes in it's wake. The movie certainly set up an impressive precedent here.

Rating: 9 out of 10

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