Monday, 2 November 2015

I've Just Seen: Scream (1996)

Scream (1996)

Director: Wes Craven

As I move through my own film odyssey, the genre that I am finding myself enjoying more and more is horror. This is so much so that I no longer approach these films with reservation, but with an eagerness to see where they fit into this most diverse genre. Even in my relative ignorance, the figure of Craven was a famous one. Scream screened on a local channel early in October, around the same time as Craven died (whether just before or after I cannot remember). It seemed appropriate, it being both Halloween month and marking his contribution to cinema, to watch this film.

While the slasher genre doesn't appeal to me as much as gothic or body horror, I thoroughly enjoyed Scream. I enjoy self-reflexivity in films, particularly if it is done for comedy, and was given ample opportunities to chortle at the jokes (the 'Turn around, Jamie!' scene veers into slap-stick!). The self-awareness is very 90s, but still works today. The smart dialogue and non-patronising approach tot he teenage characters reminded me of John Hughes films.

This is very smart and clever, though the characters' knowledge of horror films doesn't stop them from being killed in many ways. The gore is gorey, with liberal amounts of blood covering our characters by the film's end. Having a similar knowledge of horror films, particularly slasher ones, to Scream's characters will make the film much funnier then it already is. Scream was screened along with John Carpenter's Halloween, a highly appropriate double-bill, as this is the most referenced horror film in Craven's film.

Enjoy with home-made popcorn (if you survive to eat it)!


  1. Consider this under a sort of spoiler warning for readers who have never seen Scream.

    One thing that Scream loses over time is the pure audacity of the opening sequence. When this was released, Drew Barrymore was far and away that biggest star in the film. She was featured prominently on the poster. So when she's threatened in that opening scene, there is a tacit assumption that she's safe. When she ends up dead, on either the conscious or subconscious level, we realize that we are in the hands of a director who can and will do anything. Nothing and no one can be trusted, and anything is suddenly possible.

    It's a masterstroke, and it makes the entire rest of the film work.

    1. A similar shock to Janet Leigh's demise in Psycho.

      I think it is one of the best opening sequences in any film, though as you say, the audacity has worn off somewhat. And good on Drew Barrymore for agreeing to do it!