[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B004UGALGI][/pullquote] The horror genre has had many moods and changes in style over the years from monster movies, to psychological thrillers all the way to the latest torture-porn. For fans of horror, if you watch closely enough, there appears a set of common motifs and events that occur in most horror films. These ˜rules’ are the subject of the post-modern cinematic classic that is Scream. Wes Craven, a name synonymous with the horror film genre, working off of the incredible script by Kevin Williamson, took all the commonly held ideas of a horror film and began to subvert them. Not only this, but he also added characters who discussed the rich horror film history with reference to previous works (never his own) like Halloween, Psycho and Friday the 13th. It had never been done before and the results were something truly special.
Struggling to come to terms with the murder of her mother one year previous as well as her growth into adulthood, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is shocked to discover that a copy-cat killer is loose in her home town of Greensboro. During an evening waiting for her friend Tatum (Rose McGowen) she receives a call from the killer ˜Ghost Face’ and is attacked, her boyfriend Billy (Skeet Ulrich) arrives shortly after and she suspects him of making the call and he is arrested. While Billy is in jail, Sidney receives another threatening call and along with local police officer Dewey (David Arquette), local journalist Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) and horror film expert Randy (Jamie Kennedy) try to use the rules of horror films to determine who is behind the attacks.
Originally called Scary Movie (a name later stolen for a series of comedy spoof films), Scream, from the very start, is clearly not a typical horror. Drew Barrymore, whose name receives top billing and whose face is on the posters is killed brutally in the opening scene. At the time this was considered something of a risk, but in retrospect turned out to be one of the masterstrokes of Craven. With the audience reeling from her death, it became clear that no one, regardless of Hollywood stature was immune to the knife of ˜ghost face.’
From this point on, the plot speeds along at break-neck speed, leading the audience on a merry dance, implicating and dismissing suspects quickly and efficiently before delivering a knock-out blow of a finale in which all horror conventions are played to, but with markedly different results. The casting is excellent, not only with the aforementioned Barrymore, but Neve Campbell in the lead role of Sidney, playing it vulnerable and naÃ¯ve emotionally, but tough and reliable externally.
The sequels that inevitably followed struggled to match-up to the sheer quality of the original, and once the ˜rules’ had been used once, it immediately lost it’s unique originality.