‘Scream’ Movie Review

Director: Wes Craven

Starring: Neve Campbell, Rose McGowen, Skeet Ulrich, Matthew Lillard, Jamie Kennedy, David Arquette, Courtney Cox, Drew Barrymore

Plot: When a masked killer starts stalking and murdering the teens of an American high-school, Sidney Prescott begins to see links between these killings and the murder of her mother a year earlier. The killer, however, seems intent on emulating popular horror movies.

Wes Craven, along with John Carpenter and Sean Cunningham, were instrumental in pioneering the modern horror movie. Back in the 1980s they introduced masked, knife wielding maniacs butchering teenagers in an enclosed setting, a concept that rapidly became the norm. Like any trend in cinema, it was quickly capitalised on and repeated until it audiences found them predictable and tiresome.

Craven was sharp enough to turn this assumed audience knowledge of slasher films into a surprisingly original film. Deliberately riffing on the formula whilst still delivering the scares saw Craven redefines the genre a second time in as many decades.

But we all knew that already, so let’s try and look as Scream as a movie and not the first page of a new chapter in horror history.

Beginning with a stand-alone scene in which Drew Barrymore is stalked by a killer with a cell phone, Craven proves himself to a master of the genre. The timing throughout this opening is perfect, as information is slowly feed to the viewer as the tension is racked up until the shocking and gory finish. Even though the action is put on the back-burner for much of the next hour, this set-up is effective enough to carry the film through the character development and constant exposition.

It’s during the second act that Kevin Williamson’s writing comes to the fore. Although they fit basic stereotypes the characters feel real enough to keep the viewer involved and the balancing of suspicion between them is well handled.

Right up until the reveal at the end things remain engaging the scares still work after these years. Well over a decade later, now that the memory of the terrible knock-offs that plagued us after it’s release, Scream is just as good as it was in the day.