Scream; or Not All Scary Movie Fans Are Murderers, Right?

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Hello and Hallo-welcome to another edition of Slasher Saturday! You join your reviewers, Andy and Lilly, who would be happy to explain the rules of horror films to you, if you’d just stop screaming.

Today’s film offering: Scream

Andy: It felt only right to review this 90s classic. If The Blair Witch Project was all about looking forward to what horror was to become, this movie was all about looking back – an ironic, post-modern take on the slasher glut that had utterly taken over the horror industry since the early 80s. If Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon had the conceit that all slasher villains existed in the real world, this one has it that the victims have at least seen all of the slasher movies.

The plot concerns one Sidney Prescott, who while still grieving after the horrific killing of her mother, is embroiled in another series of brutal murders – this time of her school friends. It’s almost like she’s caught in a horror movie, and everyone knows that there are certain rules you have to follow if you want to survive…

Lilly: Well, everyone does by the end of the film, since you get those rules listed off to you, just in case you didn’t get it.

Scream was one of those films I hadn’t seen but had heard of for years, and seen the spoof of in Scary Movie. Now, having seen it, I’m sort of surprised how much of a copy Scary Movie was with just a few late nineties gags fitted in. To the point where I was sort of having flashbacks to Scary Movie plot points as it went along. But maybe that’s just because 90’s heartthrobs all look like goofy comic relief. Or murderers, as I kept saying throughout the film.

Andy: Yeah, Scary Movie was a weird one, because they were parodying something that was all ready so self aware and witty. Which, whatever you think of Scary Movie, are not two adjectives that can really be applied to it.

Lilly: Now, having missed out on all the years of enjoying this film, I’m almost embarrassed because it was completely up my alley. Serial killer, sarcastic teens, 90s alt rock, and Henry Winkler. Henry Winkler is in it, people! Not only was he in it, he is like film MVP in my opinion, for ripping into two teenager boys who were making really, heartbreakingly inappropriate jokes–in this day and age, it was so satisfying to watch a principal yell at two asshole kids for being assholes, let me tell you. Or maybe that was just me.

Andy: There is definitely a running theme of a youth that had been somewhat corrupted by horror – a police chief remarks that two decades ago he wouldn’t have thought the kids in this movie capable of murder, but now he’s not so sure – and it does seem to be the only thing that they talk about. Even the killer quizzes his victims on horror trivia pre-stabbin’.

Lilly: This is definitely a cinematic answer to the age old question ‘Do violent films make people violent?’. All these kids knowing all these horror films,  does it bring it all on them? Oooooh. Wait. As we approach having reviewed over 90 films this year, I don’t like that thought. That said, a lot of people seemed to know a lot about horror films, like Officer Dewey knowing about The Town That Dreaded Sundown. I mean. Really? Or did I miss my era, the early 90s, where everyone knew random horror films off the top of their heads? Damn it.

Andy: People other than us, I mean. This is very much a movie that demonstrated that saturation in pop culture definitely creates an effect, even if it’s just an audience that is informed in one specific way. 

Lilly: So, we watch as a teen struggles with the town’s ideas about her late mother and the present day murders, and it’s sort of hard not to feel some sort of awkward about how today’s ‘locker room banter’ is seen performed so lightly about a woman who was raped and brutally murdered. She was the town bicycle, so it was fine, right? Right? And then, we have the opposite end of the spectrum, as Sidney struggles with not wanting to have sex with her boyfriend and feeling guilt over that. Hi, my name is Scream, and I’m apparently very relevant in 2016. Sidney’s best friend, played by the beautifully bleached blonde Rose McGowan, makes the point that Sidney doesn’t need to have sex if she isn’t ready, and it isn’t a matter of life or death (as is said in the rules) and ugh. I could merrily discuss that side of this film for days, but won’t. For the sake of not babbling. But please, get me on it in person, and I will.

Andy: Plus it has that rarest of character types – the guy who likes the main character and has no chance, but isn’t creepy or desperate beyond what you’d expect. How often do you see that? (Note: I may have a kinship with this character because he’s the one who iterates the actual horror movie ‘rules’, and while this could lead to him being something of a social outcast, being the guy waaay more into horror than even his friends, it essentially gives him this awesome sense of prophecy).

LillyScream surprised me. I was scared by the first scenes with Drew Barrymore, I was amused by the growing notion that there were ‘rules’ to surviving a horror film, and I was impressed by the fact that the ending wasn’t typical (and more importantly wasn’t pretentious about being not typical). When I think of loving horror spoofs, this definitely is on my list now. And when I think of fashion pointers re: baggy shirts and a deep red lip? Also thinking of this.

Andy: I was a bit worried about approaching this one again, fearing it wouldn’t have aged well. But while the fashion, and the music, and some of the language definitely places this film firmly within his era, its underlying blend of wit, whodunnit and scares means it hasn’t truly dated. It’s still a very entertaining watch. It’s a heavy recommend from both of us.

Lilly: I would heavily suggest watching this one if you haven’t, and watching it again if you have, but a long time ago, because it’s fun, and because it does have some really great moments that throw back to old horror films–like watch for a certain famous janitor who was hard done by to show up! Priceless.

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