A year after her mother's death, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) and her friends started experiencing some strange phone calls. They later learned the calls were coming from a crazed serial killer, in a white faced mask and a large black robe, looking for revenge. His phone calls usually consist of many questions, the main one being: What's your favorite scary movie? Along with much scary movie trivia, ending with bloody pieces of innocent lives scattered around the small town of Woodsboro.Written by
Scream With the countless number of teen slasher movies doing the rounds, it is too easy to watch scream and see simply another school serial killer movie that has just rolled off the factory production line. However, it was Wes Craven's 'Scream' that started the whole revival of the horror genre and re-invented the teen horror. Through no fault of its own, but rather a succession of bland rip-offs, not to mention a very successful spoof (Scary Movie), Scream's original impact has been severely dulled. Were Scream released today it would no doubt be moderately successful but would be instantly forgettable. But back in 1996 the teen horror market was wide open. The teenagers of the 90s were bored of traditional horror movies featuring haunted houses, vampires or deformed monsters. They had seen them all. So Wes Craven, having reinvigorated the horror genre once before with 'Nightmare on Elm Street', set out to do it again. This time, along with Kevin Williamson, who would go on to be creator of Dawson's Creek, created a new kind of horror one that you could laugh at as well as scream at.
What made Scream so successful is that it was never patronising, and displayed a strong sense of ironic self-awareness. It took every horror cliché in the book and turned them upside down. For the kids that had seen too many movies, there was now a movie for them. The characters did not follow the clichés, but in fact talked about them, and talked about what would happen if they were in a movie. This sense of irony may seem tired now, but when Scream came out it was new and exciting. There was rarely a need to scream 'don't go upstairs' or suchlike in Scream, because the characters themselves were saying that! The idea of the killer being amongst the students adds a fresh dimension to the film, as fear gives way to paranoia at not being able to trust anyone. The subversions of the accepted horror clichés, in particular in the opening ten minutes (I'm not going to give anything away for those who have not seen it) also contribute to making Scream a truly shocking movie. It was this sense of innovation that made Scream such a breath of fresh air for the horror genre, and it is only a shame that Craven's genius has been ripped off so many times that his work has dated far too quickly. Craven and Williamson have also created a new horror star but it was not a particular character but just a costume with an iconic mask. The Scream mask has become just as symbolic, perhaps even more so, than that of Michael Myers or Jason Vorhees.
For any serious horror movie fans, Scream is essential viewing, if only to witness the film that started it all. The 'movie within a movie' idea was terrific, and would be taken even further in the sequel. The frequent references to classic horror movies, and reversals of accepted horror clichés, especially in the opening ten minutes) are also fun to watch out for. There is even a wonderful moment where one boy climbs in the bedroom window of his girlfriend a scene that would be taken and used as one of the foundation for Williamson's successful teen series Dawson's Creek.
The iconic mask, the one-liners, and the unique self-awareness when it comes to horror clichés make Scream a true original accept no imitations.
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