Craven's Scream-ish Teen Horror
Released back in 1996 "Scream" was a breath of fresh air when it came to horror movies and revitalised the genre of teen-horror which for some years had become stagnant. With horror director Wes Craven taking the helm "Scream" certainly felt like a horror flick with mass appeal, featuring hot young actors & actresses from Neve Campbell to Courteney Cox as well as a storyline which was happy enough to make fun of itself without feeling like a parody. So successful was the original "Scream" that not only was it followed up by two quick sequels, there is also "Scream 4", but also a series of spoof movies.
A year after the murder of her mother, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell - The Craft) finds herself the centre of attention as a crazed killer hits the small town of Woodsboro. Having already brutally murdered two of her school friends, the masked killer sets their sights on poor Sidney and her friends picking them off whilst the police do their best to protect her. At the same time aggressive TV journalist Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox - Cocoon: The Return) turns up in Woodsboro determined to get the inside scoop on the serial murders.
As with any movie made more than a decade ago the impact of "Scream" now days is a lot less impressive as it was on its original release. The frights feel a lot tamer than they did the first time round and in comparison to the modern trend for gore "Scream" feels a little childish. But then the real joy when it comes to "Scream" is that it happily pokes fun at the horror genre without feeling like a spoof. The movie is littered with references about other horror movies some which go undetected unless you are a horror fanatic, but every one is mentioned in a fun way often demonstrating how stupid slasher flicks can be.
But then here's the clever thing, despite knocking these "rules of horror" several scenes actual revel in them such as when Sidney is being chased though the house which is a like for like comparison to a scene in "Halloween". In fact expert horror geek Randy, played by Jamie Kennedy is actually watching "Halloween "at the same time provoking the like for like comparisons and making it all the more amusing.
The thing is that although "Scream" is intentionally very funny it balances the mixture of comedy and horror perfectly which I am sure is down to have horror supremo Wes Craven helming the movie. It would have been easy for "Scream" to come across as just another dumb spoof, but in fact the self parody makes it all the more interesting and intelligent, especially for those who have watched plenty of horror movies. That is the thing; "Scream" is a horror movie not so much for those looking to be scared witless but for those who are horror fans who can appreciate all the in jokes.
Despite all this "Scream" does have issues and at times things become to over drawn especially an ending which never feels like it's going to stop. But this is just a minor criticism of a movie which for the most is good fun and hits the nail firmly on the head when delivering good entertainment.
Casting wise well I think "Scream" gets it bang on with a bunch of fresh faced teen stars accompanied by a couple of more well known faces. In the case of Neve Campbell who takes most of the plaudits for her lead role of Sidney she is perfect, cute looking but with a nice twist that she is tougher than most of your stereotypical females in horror movies. Jamie Kennedy is great as a movie geek who revels in the rules of horror and even Courtney Cox does a good job of being an annoying television journalist. Plus there is an enjoyable cameo performance from Henry Winkler as the school principle which provides plenty of laughs.
What I really liked is that there is a balance between characters; Sidney for the most is a serious character making her interesting, whilst others around her such as Jamie Kennedy as Randy, Matthew Lillard as Stuart and David Arquette as Deputy Dewy all get to provide the laughs and the differences makes it work.
What this all boils down to is as a horror movie "Scream" is not that scary, it has its moments but these are few and far between. But what "Scream" is, is a clever horror which parodies itself without turning into a dumb spoof. There are subtle balances between comedy and storyline which work brilliantly and for fans of horror movies the various in jokes are a joy to watch.