Reviewed by: Brian Nigro
Starring: Drew Barrymore, Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox | Director: Wes Craven | Released by: Miramax
“Someone’s taken their love of scary movies one step too far!”
For all the bad rap horror movies get, the genre makes for tremendously effective morality plays. Think about it. In the mind of a teenager, who’s a more credible authority figure: your parents or Freddy Kreuger? In fact, I’d go so far as to say that many Christians would find horror films particularly noteworthy because kids who violate God’s law are punished.
And that’s precisely what makes “Scream” so entertaining. Here’s a self-reflective movie, like a mirror, that features characters who were raised on a steady diet of bad horror movies. Subsequently, they think they can break the rules and get away with it—and they’re wrong. In the process, director Wes Craven throws a new twist in the genre.
If the antagonist of “Scream” is, well, the slasher, then the protagonist is Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell). Campbell is quickly becoming a poster girl for new horror films—she was previously in “The Craft”—and it’s doubtful anyone else could play this kind of role with as much credibility.
The opening sequence, featuring a virtually unrecognizable Drew Barrymore, is a blatant nod to the late-1970’s B-movie “When a Stranger Calls”. In addition, one of Sidney’s friends works at a video store. He drops movie references left and right and, because he’s so enamored with horror films, is a prime suspect. Quite simply, it is difficult for any teenager or young adults who grew up watching this sort of stuff NOT to find “Scream” entertaining.
A major liability in the movie is the leech of a tabloid news reporter named Gale Weathers, played by Courtney Cox. Perhaps “Scream” wants to be a satire of the media, but it isn’t. (Whatever happened to actual network news reporters, anyway?) The movie’s effective enough without dragging in marginal characters who get killed off anyway.
Miramax (which is owned by Disney) underhyped “Scream” when it came out late 1996. Then in a marketing fluke, they re-released it to theatres in early 1997. Much of the hype is deserved—very rarely do any horror movies (remembering what horror movies are) treat the audience with any degree of consideration. …I don’t want to see “Friday The 13th Part 29”, I want to see something new and original.
Parents, take note: This is definitely not a movie for kids. At face value, only the last part is unquestionably offensive, but “Scream” did deserve its R-rating for; violence, extreme gore, sex (no nudity), and profanity.
(I feel that) it is suitable for mature audiences who can discern the morality in the story. Bottom line highlighted and stressed: Not for kids.
Year of Release—1996