9 Oct 2013


Director: Wes Craven
Writer: Kevin Williamson
Stars: Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Drew Barrymore
Running Time: 111 mins
Sub-Genre: Mystery, Crime, Thriller, Slasher, Comedy
Release: December 1996

One year after the death of Sidney Prescott's (Campbell) mother, two students turn up gutted. When a serial killer appears, Sidney begins to suspect whether her mother's death and the two new deaths are related. No one is safe, as the killer begins to pick everyone off one by one. Everyone's a suspect in this case.

When Halloween comes around every year I look forward to indulging in some juicy horror flicks whilst feasting on the best of complete crap (or as the Americans say, Junk food), stuffing my face with the best of crisps and chocolate, one of the films I love the most is Halloween for all the obvious reasons, but another is one of my favourite slashers of all time, and that folks is Wes Scraven's Scream.

This 90's slasher may not scream "Halloween" (see what I done there?), but it does for me, and it's a horror that practically makes my Halloween  well, aside from thee Halloween which is the best horror film ever made, but that's a story for another day. Scream to me is the sort of horror film that hypes you for the next, so why not use this as a starter huh? Watch some Scream, throw on Nightmare on Elm Street, switch Trick 'r Treat on and finish with Halloween; that my friends is my idea of the perfect Halloween-Eve set-up!

Now let's talk about one of the most ground-breaking horror's of the 90's, one of the most original slashers of all-time and a genre-changing affair, that is all things that define the Wes Craven masterpiece that is Scream. Fantastic on many levels, Scream defined the slasher sub-genre for what it is today, so even if many of you aren't as passionate for this slice of horror art like I am I would at least hope you would all be aware of what Scream has done, and that, is re-inventing that slasher sub-genre, injecting it with more life and brains than they have ever had before.

What makes Scream such a strong and effective horror is its perfect balance of gore, intelligence and wit, and with all of them in tact what else is needed to make this any better really? Frequently scary for slasher standards, Scream proves to be as impressive as anyone could have possibly imagined, and bear in mind that jolted new life back into a one-dead sub-genre so be thankful for that slasher fans, I know I am. It's filled with so much creative glory that it is near impossible to fault a film that hits all the right marks nearly throughout the film, and if you come out of watching this have-assed, without a care for it, without a lasting taste that it leaves then you simply don't have what it takes to appreciate what this film has to offer, both on the front and beneath.

Williamson's brilliant script is what gives Craven the potential to present something masterful, and through his previous work (Nightmare on Elm Street, Last House on the Left) it was clear he was going to do the script justice, to a point were it couldn't possibly have been executed better. This was not just a random hit on the goldmine, it's evident that alot of thought and care went into the script of this, and in the hand of Williamson and with it being his first screenplay it was blatantly obvious that he had something going here, and landing Craven was just the icing on the cake. Williamson perhaps doesn't get the credit needed for Scream, but his talent was not ignored as he went on to write Halloween H2O (one of my all-time favourite horror sequels) and the fantastic Scream 2 and (partly) 4.

Scream is a fresh installment to the slasher sub-genre, and although it's known for its iconic masked figure that is Ghostface, its characters and wit can sometimes be shaded by the guts and gore, but as for the gags, well they can just be as strong as the next one. Too often horror films are branded for their lack of intelligence, but Scream however has enough smart gags and plotting to carry the story, and done in the wrong hands it wouldn't have been pulled off with enough fun flare whilst balancing the intelligent and serious tone that lays beneath it. It's intelligence isn't over-powering like we see in The Cabin in the Woods, but it doesn't make the audience feel so smart that they can predict the outcome, and although the final reveal isn't exactly was I would call "surprising", but it's layered in enough flavor and playfulness to carry the reveal through at an acceptable level, acceptable enough to shock us, but not stun us.

Even though the fun tone and shocking premise is enough to carry the film to the end credits, what makes it so great is the first 10 minutes - the best opening scene in horror movie history. Known as one of the the most unexpected openings ever, we sit back (uncomfortably) and watch an extremely intense and haunting game of cat and mouse play out that involves a mysterious masked man, a large blade and Drew Barrymore, a woman everyone thought was going to survive due to her mass fame who ended up biting the dust only 10 minutes into the film; nobody seen that coming... nobody. Sure, the opening may have been unbelievably fantastic, but it didn't carry the film like many claimed, the rest of Scream had enough fresh and fun input to make itself memorable as a whole, and not just with the opening scene.

As expected Courtney Cox, Matthew Lillard, Rose McGowan and Skeet Ulrich all do a fantastic (and sometimes loopy) job at presenting the unique characters displayed in the script, and surprisingly  Neve Campbell plays the innocent, broken yet strong leading lady with perfection which she continues until the fourth installment. The whole cast are impressive, as well as their characters which each get their own time to develop, leaving no room for a half-assed attempt at characters, and although we feel something when one or two of them watch their insides go the outside, it's always fun to see what other method of killing Ghostface has up his very long black cape - Almost like the film in general, you never know what card it's going to pull out next.

VERDICT: Scream may have worked in the 90's but it's as fresh and fun as it has ever been. Injecting new life into the sub-genre, Scream manages to balance scares, tension, suspense  wit and fun to deliver a fresh, smart and entertaining horror film that will remain to be adored by horror fans for years to come. Classic? Defiantly  Masterpiece? I think so.

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