'Scream' Review: What's Your Favorite Scary Movie?
Monday, June 23, 2008
Before Scream hit theaters in 1996, slasher movies were more often than not nothing but guilty fun. Though the classics like the original Halloween way back in 1978 offered up true suspense, the formula was almost always the same for the hundreds of movies that followed : no name stars, gratuitous nudity, thin premise and tons of low budget gore. The slasher genre of horror flicks became a parody of itself, with movies like Killer Workout -- where the killer offed nubile young aerobics instructors . . . with a giant safety pin -- becoming the norm.
For awhile, slasher movies faded from the mainstream. Then came Scream, a movie with a big name horror director, a cast of relatively well known actors, and a unique premise: what if the characters in a scary movie were fans of scary movies themselves? If they knew all the rules of the genre, would they be able to escape the crazed killer who is after them?
The plot is relatively straightforward: While Sidney Prescott’s (Neve Campbell) father is away on business, a masked killer roams her town offing teenagers one by one. Standard slasher movie fare to be sure, but the big difference comes with the writing by Kevin Williamson. The characters are knowledgeable about the movie genre in which they find themselves trapped and even amidst the legitimate scary scenes, there are plenty of laughs to be had for viewers who themselves know all about the horror movies of the ‘70s and ‘80s.
Bolstered by whip smart performances from Campbell, Courtney Cox as a sleazy news reporter, David Arquette as a boyish cop, and Jamie Kennedy as the resident film expert -- among many other fine acting jobs -- the whodunit, the drama, the humor and the scares crackle from the first frame to the last. Director Wes Craven took Kevin Williamson’s smart script and brought it to terrifying life. The result is a film that is exciting and fresh even more than a decade later.
The intelligent writing, the expert directing and the legitimate actors have made Scream not just a horror movie classic, but a film that is a true cinema classic. Through word of mouth the movie became a hit and spawned dozens of lesser imitations. But as with Halloween so long ago, there was no beating Scream when it came to creating a truly great slasher movie -- at least, not until its inevitable and surprisingly fantastic sequel came out to show that the correct answer to the ghost faced killer's question of "What's your favorite scary movie?" is just one word: Scream.
-BuddyTV Staff Writer
(Photo courtesy of Dimension Films)