Quick Hit: A wonderfully meta horror film.
Wes Craven was one of the most talented horror directors that we had, and never had an issue with changing the rules of what a horror movie could be. But he grew tired of the horror movie game, with constant sequels bastardizing his creations (see only how the Nightmare series grew so far from its origins for an example of this). So in the mid-nineties, he was nearly ready to move away from horror. But Scream brought him back and solidified him as one of the best ever.
Scream was probably the best of a series of tongue-in-cheek horror films, like I Know What You Did Last Summer. These are films that know they’re horror films, and even talk about being horror films. Frequency mentioning different actors by name, they talk about horror rules before being slaughtered one by one. Along with this, they make direct mention to things regarding its director – like the aforementioned sequels. This is smart, terrific writing, but it could have easily gone the route of the Scary Movie franchise (which itself parodied Scream) and gone full parody. But Mr. Craven’s direction, and some solid acting performances lead it to be one of the best horror films of the nineties.
First, it’s tough to make a movie be scary when the audience is literally told what’s coming. We know in the open that something bad is going to happen to Casey. We know it time and again when the Ghostface killer shows up that people are going to get killed, but the ultra-violent way that they meet their demise is terrifically terrifying. It’s one of those movies where there is no doubt to the death of those that are killed (I still have trouble with the garage door scene). But what makes Ghostface killer so believable is how human he is. He’s continually getting knocked down, tripping, and actively getting hurt – but still accomplishing his goal of killing teens. It’s not in a supernatural way like Mike Meyers or Jason, but in a determined human way. I think that is one of the scariest parts of all.
I really enjoy the acting here. It’s tough to essentially play a role that is super clichéd like you know it’s super clichéd. All the actors are solid in their roles, but this is really what set Neve Campbell apart. Her role as the final goal is so steeped in tradition and clichés that it would have been difficult to set her apart. But she manages it by being both the sweet and the feisty, while maintain an air of believability. You believe that she has no problem handing out the damage that she does towards the end of the film. She’s groovy, man.
So, if you want a movie that’s in the same vein as Cabin In The Woods, that will deconstruct the horror movie genre, Scream is definitely it. It’s one of the best horror movies of the nineties, and one of the best out there in general. Check it out. For me, it’s an “A+” due to its inventiveness, its believability, and its intense violence and scares.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"