Ah Scream…the satire of the slasher genre playing off of every trope in the book. With Wes Craven knowing and using all those tricks, it would only make sense that he be one of the ones to direct this interesting premise and black comedy. Very intelligent and topical for its age, Scream helped Wes Craven come back to the mainstream horror map with yet another instant classic resonating with the youth and veterans of the horror scene.
Scream is the story of Sydney Prescott and her unfortunate chain of events. She is hounded by a masked man who changes his voice as he playfully hunts down the residents of Woodsboro. Yes I said playfully, this is where the black comedy comes in. It is in how the killer executes his kills, as often they play off the tropes beautifully and are quite intelligent in both their dialogue and actions, that the comedy comes into play. It allows for a certain amount of comedic build up, then rockets into the tense horror with the score and suburban setting creating a great eerie tone. The weird thing is…the comedy doesn’t detract from the overall tension of the horror as it only seems to add to it. Returning back to “The Last House on the Left” yet again, we can see the evolution of humour in Craven’s films. It incorporates the humour into the horror making it both eerie and uncomfortable with a certain charm to it.
It is quite topical in its approach and is important for many reasons as it tackled a lot of the issues of the time. Social commentary is key and it shows up about as much as the comedy. Most of the actions are commented on especially in the age of technology and security discussing the pros and cons of both without really getting into it all too much in the dialogue. Then there is the talk from our fourth wall breaking nerd, Randy, who discusses the horror movie formula in this movie quite frequently. For a cast of generally unknowns, they did a terrific job. Jamie Kennedy, Matthew Lillard, Skeet Ulrich, Neve Campbell, David Arquette and so many others just bring a certain level of both cheese and intensity this film needed in order to execute as well as it did.
This movie and its franchise is not only a great slasher film, but also great on the whodunit aspect. Trying to figure out the killer is hard due to the large amount of red herrings it tries to throw out with its heavy trope use. This builds up to a tense iconic final house sequence of events which the series is well known for. This is where the bloodbath commences and nobody is safe and everything takes it up a notch to eleven. The humour, the dialogue, the tense atmosphere, the guessing, the killer is there somewhere and you try to guess as your cast of suspects grows smaller ever still.
I’m certain by now you can see how biased I am towards Scream as a whole. I could nitpick this time around like I did with Craven’s other masterpiece, A Nightmare on Elm Street, but this is the end of Wes Craven week and I’m giving it a small break. This film was my entryway into the genre and I gain a new respect for it each time I watch it. The more classics you watch, the more referential humour you will get. The more movies you watch the more you will notice that Matthew Lillard is actually the new voice of Shaggy Rogers from Scooby-Doo. You see the building blocks, you see the foreshadowing in the scenes, and you love how it both entertains and confuses you all at the same time. From the whodunit aspect, to the black comedy, to the tense atmosphere, Scream is a great time especially at Halloween.
Now that is a close to Wes Craven week and all the specific reviews. We start off with Red Eye, as we travel to the last house on the left, making sure we have some popcorn to enjoy a nightmare on Elm Street and all the while not forgetting to enjoy ourselves as we scream. I love Craven’s work, even the ones I didn’t get to touch I would desperately want to see. Potentially there will be another time to finish up the rest of the library, but I’m spooked out for now. Wes Craven is one of my favourite directors and he deserves the upmost respect for the work he has done. So thank you Wes for some of my favourite movies in cinema.