Scream might be one of the most popular ‘slasher’ movies produced by the Hollywood industry till date. Directed by Wes Craven, the Neve Campbell, Drew Barrymore and Courteney Cox-starrer released in 1996 and went on to become a blockbuster. Made on a tight budget of USD 14 million, Scream made a jaw-dropping return of USD 173 million. Penned by Kevin Williamson, the movie also featured David Arquette and Rose McGowan in significant parts. The narrative revolved around Campbell’s character Sidney Prescott, a high-schooler, who becomes the target of a killer called Ghostface, dressed perpetually in a Halloween costume. The film was remarkable, especially at the time it was released, because it frequently lampooned the cliches of horror movies. It was one of the first meta horror films of its time whose characters referenced the various stereotypes that usually exists within a horror flick.
Scream is said to have been responsible for revitalising the horror genre, which had become redundant and exhausting in the 90s. Its background score by Marco Beltrami received special attention for its haunting effects on the listener. Everything about Scream was new and exciting. Its characters were intelligent and would often be seen discussing the horror genre and how it repeatedly used the same tropes to dupe its audience. Scream sought to subvert its genre, and it managed to do that quite successfully, all thanks to the writing by passionate horror fan Kevin Williamson.
A fine example of writing in Scream is one of the first conversations Drew Barrymore’s Casey Becker has with the killer over phone. Ghostface asks her what she was about to do and Casey says she was getting ready to watch a video, the scary kind. The conversation goes on and the killer asks her about her favourite horror movie and Casey responds with Nightmare on Elm Street, a film directed by Wes Craven himself. Still, it makes zero sense why Drew’s character must indulge a creepy stranger on her home phone, especially when he is asking such bizarre questions. And this is precisely why Williamson’s writing is so clever. It is not only subverting the genre, it is self-referential and makes fun of scary movie tropes while luxuriating in one. It is this strange dichotomy of bowing to the genre’s typical demands and then making fun of it at the same time that makes Scream so unusual.
(SPOILER) While there were numerous loopholes in the plot, one of the greatest twists of the film was the fact that it had not one, but two killers. Killers who were friends with the protagonist and who went to the same school as everyone else. Matthew Lillard was stellar as the unhinged psycho killer and Neve Campbell as Sidney was the perfect ‘victim-heroine.’ It was interesting to note that Sidney was never portrayed as the quintessential ‘damsel in distress.’ Sure, she felt helpless and scared at times, given the scenario. But she always found a way to get her strength back. She was uncertain, humane and strangely powerful. Sidney Prescott was the hero as well as the heroine of Scream, which is another unique thing about this horror movie. In slasher flicks, women are usually seen essaying the role of a victim, or someone who is ultimately asked to sacrifice her life in order to propel the storyline in some way. But in Scream, Neve Campbell’s character manages to outwit her attackers and wins the day for good.
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The success of Scream spawned multiple sequels and spoofs, but none of them could quite match the record of the original, which was a stupendous hit at the time. A new installment of Scream, tentatively called Scream 5, is currently in works with a bunch of original and new cast members. Since Wes Craven passed away in 2015, Scream 5 would be the only film in the franchise which will not be helmed by him. Screenwriter Kevin Williamson has reportedly joined the team as an executive producer. Scream 5 will be directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett. Slated for a 2022 release, it would be interesting to see a new twist to the familiar story, brought to life by a mix of old and new faces.
Scream is available to stream on Google Play.
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