No Better Way to Say it Than “Everyone is a Suspect”
Scream | Directed by Wes Craven | Horror | PG-13 | 1 H 51 MIN
Written by Nicole Betts
Oh Wes Craven, if I was ever to declare a love of my life, it would be you. The audience is thrown directly into the action with the spectacular and terrifying scene of Drew Barrymore’s encounter with the killer, the mysterious Ghostface. Scream is a delightfully suspenseful 111 minutes that could have been a basic slasher flick, but instead is a masterpiece in how to create a good teen horror movie. The premise is nothing new to the horror world, a masked killer targeting unsuspecting teenagers, but through the self-aware nature of the film, Scream is set apart from the rest. The characters know horror movies, and the movie itself comments on the issues with the horror movie franchise. No trope is spared, every dumb cliché is pulled into light and made fun of. This means there are no dumb busty blonde who trip on nothing, no car mysteriously not starting, and no impossibly strong killer. Instead, the characters act and respond in ways that make the audience want to root for them, they put up a fight even if it doesn’t end well for them.
So, let’s get into arguably the best part of this movie, and my personal favourite part, the characters and the actors who masterfully bring them to life. First, the characters themselves. Every single character we get to know is unique, memorable and smart which is unusual for a lot of horror movies. Usually, we are introduced to a group of people, and right away we can pick out the important ones, and the cannon fodder who only exist to up the kill count. In Scream, every character is important. All of them fight back against the killer and make decisions that make sense in a survival setting. As well, the killer is one who properly reacts to being attacked in self defense, such as falling back when getting hit with a beer bottle. The movements of all characters are logical, both in the decision and the actual physics of them. The killer has to actual run to catch the fleeing victim, there is no sudden teleportation that can only be explained by “they are the villain!”. The characters being set up as smart adds to another fun detail of the movie, the “whodunnit” plot point as we don’t know which characters we can truly trust (other than Sidney, the one character’s movements we see the entire time). Every character acts shady, from appearing at unusual times to creepy dialogue they all have.
Speaking of dialogue, I usually cringe at the attempt to make teenage characters sound like teenagers. Not Scream. Watch this, I found myself fully believing these characters were high school students, from their morbid jokes to various interactions with one another, the script never broke the immersion. The script combined with the actor’s delivery is another thing that sets Scream apart from other slasher films, these teenagers act and sound like real teenagers. I can’t emphasize enough how good the acting is in this movie, for a slasher film from the 90s, these actors bring it and absolutely kill every scene they are in. From the terrified victims to the masterful acting when the killer is finally revealed, I saw the characters and not the actors trying to be a character.
Despite being made in 1996, Scream holds up over 20 years later as a masterpiece of a horror movie, a delightfully fun and scary commentary on the Horror movie franchise as a whole, filled with characters the audience can properly love and root for.
Watch the Official Trailer Below