Director: Wes Craven (1996)
Starring: Neve Campbell, Skeet Ulrich, Courteney Cox, David Arquette
Believe it or not, there was a time when Wes Craven still made good movies, self-referential slashers hadn't been overdone and Jamie Kennedy wasn't an annoying fuck. Actually, Jamie Kennedy has always been an annoying fuck and he's still an annoying fuck in Wes Craven's original Scream. The rest, though, stands true.
Over ten years later, there's a new Scream in town. And it's a sequel, not a remake/reboot. Actually, a remake/reboot of a self-referential slasher movie? Surely that'd have to address the very nature of reboots and remakes without admitting that it itself was a reboot or remake and then we'd have us an apocalypse on our hands. Kinda like if you were to type google into google. But those are questions for our surely forthcoming review of Scream 4. This we should take as an opportunity to review the one what started it all: Wes Craven's Scream.
Although its impact has been vastly diluted by imitators and even its own sequels (well, mainly the second sequel so far. Time will tell if Craven has saved the best until last), Scream is som
ething of a classic of horror cinema, joining the likes of Halloween, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Craven's own Nightmare On Elm Street amongst the pantheon of greats. It's not as good as those other movies, but it's a contender, nonetheless.
Key to this is its villain. No, I don't mean Matthew Lillard or the other one. The Scream movies always suck after the unmasking. The Ghostface - Edvard Munch-inspired - mask has truly become one of the great slasher icons, easily rivaling the likes of Freddy, Jason and Michael. It's become enough of a pop culture phenomenon to justify me saying that, even inspiring the Scary Movie series of films (nothing to boast about, admittedly) and a shitload of ripoff masks in Poundland come Halloween season.
The cast, I admit, are eminently punchable, particularly Matthew Lillard, Jamie Kennedy and Courteney Cox. Even wet lead girl Neve Campbell inspires slapping; it's no wonder a whole franchise was made of people trying to kill her. I suppose this is what happens when you populate your movie with smartarse students and ex-Friends cast members. That said, David Arquette is oddly likeable (hey, the man directed The Tripper, which gives him a lifetime pass in my book) and Liev Schreiber is great in everything, not least this.
Any movie which opens with the violent murder of Drew Barrymore will always get my vote. If you ask me, ET could have used a bit more Dead Drew Barrymore. Which is why nobody ever asks me. And why people always assume I'm a serial killer. Anyway, this opening kicks Scream off in the very best of fashions; both as a Hitchcockian wink (in killing off the 'name' star) and a precursor to the very meta things to come. But Scream works both as a playful wink to horror aficionados and as a proper slasher flick itself. The stalk n' slash scenes are very well done, and there's enough gore and grot to satiate most gorehounds.
Personally, I've always thought Scream a little overrated, and it's almost my least favourite of Craven's 'big' films, just behind The Last House On The Left. But it does what it does very well, and it's a testament to Craven's skills that it remains relevant and fresh to this day.
Unlike Courteney and David's marriage. There, I said it. Too far?