Wes Craven’s Scream

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What can we say about this iconic movie? Released in 1996, it was a landmark in the horror movie genre, simultaneously being a legitimate horror movie in and of itself while also satirizing the entire genre at the same time. The former was provided for in the form of a tightly plotted whodunit slasher mystery, complete with the requisite gore, while the latter was provided via sardonic meta commentary via the dialogue by the movie’s teenage protagonists. This was obviously something the ‘Scary Movie’ creators didn’t get: you can’t do a shitty spoof of a well done satire! Of course, the Scary Movie franchise went on to gross approximately one billion American dollars at the box office, a testament to the general idiocy of the movie going public. But I digress.

The plot of the movie was basic, a masked serial killer is terrorizing the small town of Woodsboro, California, and the protagonist of the movie Sidney Prescott (you might recognize her in 1998’s Wild Things and we all know why, you horny pervert) is somehow connected to the murders. All the while the motley teenage cast never seem to take the killings seriously, with wry commentary and jokes, lending a sense of levity to the movie’s atmosphere. Nevertheless, the opening scene of the movie was pure horror.

As for the killer itself, well Scream introduced the infamous Ghostface mask, which was worn by all the antagonists in the sequels, and parodied endlessly elsewhere. A big difference in Ghostface when compared to the other iconic movie villains of the period such as Mike Myers and Jason Vorhees was that Ghostface seemed almost (too) human. His victims frequently managed to elude him for prolonged period of time, leading to prolonged Benny Hill style chase scenes, with Ghostface frequently tripping over furniture, getting punched in the crotch, hit in the face, etc. before finally dispatching of his prey. Of course, once the killer’s identity is revealed, it’s easy to see why; he was hardly a muscle bound action hero of the decade, and was straight out of a teenage rom-com. Seriously, if you’re going to be a serial killer whose modus operandi was chasing your victims down with a knife, don’t you think you should at least work out and lift weights, and I don’t know, maybe get more dietary protein?  Work on your grip strength? Just saying. As an aside, for your extra protein needs, check out http://theproteininvestor.com/.

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The meta commentary is really what makes the movie such a joy to watch. While the scares and horror movie tropes used in the movie are nothing special (in fact, I’d bet that they were deliberately made to be nothing special and as generic to the genre as possible), the character’s dialogue often brushes up against the fourth wall. This is best seen by the character Randy, the quintessential ‘nerd’ of the film, with a quick tongue used to make up for a lack of physical prowess. Of note is the scene where while watching a horror movie (so meta!) he comments on the ‘rules’ of the horror movie; which the movie subsequently breaks. After all, Sidney gets her freak on and totally survives.

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SPOILER ALERT! In the end it is revealed that Ghostface is actually two people, one of which is Sidney’s boyfriend Billy. The motive? Sidney’s mom Maureen used to ‘get around’ and caused the breakup of Billy’s parents’ marriage. The other killer was played by Billy’s friend Stu who had no motive. It’s the millennium, motives are incidental. All in all, a tightly plotted thrill fest. I recommend this one as a good old standby when you invite a girl over to ‘watch a movie’ or as they say nowadays ‘Netflix and chill’.