Hello everyone. Welcome back to another #moviemonday.
Today I’ve decided to talk about the original Scream. Let’s dive in.
This movie was released in 1996 and it was directed by Wes Craven.
This movie takes us to the fictional town of Woodsboro, where a mysterious killer is running around in a Halloween costume. This killer seems to target Sidney Prescott, a young high school girl who is struggling with the impending anniversary of her mother’s death.
The movie is sort of a combination of a slasher and a mystery movie because the movie plays with horror tropes, spells them out and attempts to subvert them, while also keeping watchers guessing who the masked killer is.
I think that Scream is really clever because it is almost a really dark comedy about horror movies. This movie makes fun of horror tropes, while also demonstrating how thought provoking the horror genre can be, and it is easy to see why this movie stood out when it was first released because it was the first horror movie to break the fourth wall almost, because the characters in the movie are aware of horror movies. They talk about horror movies, they watch horror movies, and all of the characters play a certain role.
Sidney Prescott is the movie’s main protagonist. She is smart, she’s kind, she’s a normal high school student. She has good friends, a boyfriend whom she loves, and all is going well except for the fact that the anniversary of her mother’s death is approaching. Sidney’s mother was murdered so this first anniversary is obviously very difficult for her and it is made even more difficult when this masked killer shows up in town.
Sidney is set up to be a horror protagonist who is not like other horror protagonists. She doesn’t believe in the set up of “scary movies” and she often points outs things that she thinks are ridiculous about horror movies. For example, she says that the girl always “runs up the stairs instead of out the front door” – I’ve paraphrased this line here, but the idea is that Sidney is poking fun at the stereotypical girl that tends to star in horror movies. There is often a trope in horror movies where the female character is being chased by the killer and rather than running out the door, they run upstairs which only leaves them with nowhere to go.
Sidney is smart and she is strong and throughout this movie she has some incredible scenes where she fights back and the action scenes are really enjoyable to watch.
This is an interesting movie because it has a really strong cast of ensemble characters. There’s Sidney, her boyfriend Billy, her best friend Tatum and her brother Dewey. There’s Randy, the movie nerd, he’s the one who tells the rest of the characters, and the audience, all about the “rules” of horror movies, so I would say that Randy is the one who is pointing out the horror tropes, and demonstrating how Scream is attempting to subvert them. There’s Stu, Cotton Weary, the man who Sidney believes killed her mother, so much so that she testified against him, and finally there is Gale Weathers, the most opportunistic and ambitious reporter you’ll ever see.
The movie’s antagonist is the killer obviously. This masked killer goes by the name “Ghostface” because of the Halloween mask he wears while committing his crimes. “Ghostface” is a vicious, sadistic killer who likes to taunt his victims on the phone before he chases them down and kills them with a knife. “Ghostface” is a very creepy antagonist because of the way he lurks around corners. The audience knows someone else is going to be murdered when we see a shot of “Ghostface” lurking in the background.
I obviously won’t be revealing who “Ghostface” is because that would spoil the whole movie, but what I will say is that I think Scream is extremely well written because at some point, in seems that anyone could be the killer. As I was watching I was trying to guess, and because of the way the movie subverts horror tropes, I was making guesses but then changing my mind because it seemed too obvious, only to circle back and think well maybe the movie is trying to throw me off by being so obvious. The movie knew what it was doing, the premise was very clever and it was executed really well.
The other character that I can talk about in more detail without spoiling any details is Gale. At first I disliked Gale because of her uncaring attitude towards the victims in the stories she is reporting. At the beginning of the movie, Gale sees every case as an opportunity for a story, for publicity for herself, she wants to make the news, she wants to be the one reporting it but as time goes on, she becomes less exploitative and more caring towards Sidney and the other people of Woodsboro. I thought she was a really interesting character because in a way I felt she was a mirror of society, I felt that she represented the way in which society can be fascinated by crimes and by violence. I mean there is a reason why murder mysteries and detective shows are so popular, and it is because there is something unexplainably desirable about experiencing violence in a safe way. That’s why it’s called a morbid fascination. We want to know the details of events that have taken place, we want to know who did it and why, but we don’t want to be part of the violence ourselves. This movie and Gale’s character points out why people enjoy horror, it’s scary and thrilling, and morbidly fascinating, but at the end of the day, the events that are occurring in Woodsboro are not entertaining, or at least they shouldn’t be.
It goes without saying that violence is a major theme of this movie. It is a horror movie about a masked killer who prefers to stab his chosen victims to death, and while it is a funny movie too, there are some scenes that if you’re squeamish like me you should definitely avert your eyes during them. This may be an underrated take, but I think that an underlying theme of this movie is the idea of a love for film. Randy’s character specifically loves horror movies and so he is the one explaining the “rules” of a horror movie. The movie then plays out these rules in front of our eyes, and this demonstrates a real love for film because the movie pays homage to, and also subverts classic horror movie tropes and themes. I said already that I think it was a really well written piece because this premise was really clever, at the time of this movie’s release this kind of satire in horror movies was unique, and the idea was executed really well.
The movie is an hour and fifty minutes long. I would say that this movie follows a three-act structure. The movie opens with a young girl making popcorn alone in her house, and while she’s doing this she gets a phone call from the killer. He taunts her on the phone, quizzing her about horror movies, and when she fails to get his questions right, he reveals that he has killed her boyfriend. The girl, played by Drew Barrymore, attempts to escape but the killer gets her and her death is what establishes what this movie’s plot is going to be – a sadistic killer is on the lose and he’s not finished yet.
The second act of the movie is when the killer seems to set Sidney in his sights and he harasses her on the phone. This is the part of the movie where the audience begins to question who the killer is and it becomes apparent that it could be anyone. The ensemble are trying to live their lives while dealing with the fact that there is a killer in their midst.
The final act is the final showdown. We know that Sidney will battle “Ghostface” at some point in time, it’s a question of when, not if, and we are hoping that Sidney will be the last girl standing. We also know that before this movie ends we will need to learn who the killer is, so the stakes get higher and the action gets more intense, and the movie really ramps up the tension before the reveal.
I think the movie moves at a nice pace because it doesn’t feel too long, but it’s also not rushed so the tension has a chance to sit with us and suspense builds really nicely.
I don’t think I ever would have chosen to watch this movie by myself. I’ve said before how I just don’t like blood, but I was told that I would really like this movie because of the mystery aspects to it and because of the way it plays with tropes and themes. As an English Literature student who has studied film theory, I did really enjoy this movie because of this subversion of horror tropes. I like how the movie poked fun of the genre while also being part of it. I thought it was really clever. Despite the moments of gore, I actually really did enjoy this movie and believe it or not, I would watch it again. I’ve recently watched the sequel, and although I hid behind a pillow for certain scenes, I did enjoy that movie too and I am looking forward to finishing the original trilogy.
If you like scary movies then you’ll like Scream, and I completely understand why this movie has the following that it does. I’m glad that I watched it. I would watch it again. If you don’t like scary movies, I would say that this movie combines elements of horror and elements of dark comedies, so it’s not a gore fest throughout, and at times it even plays like a mystery “who done it?” so you may end up liking it a lot, just like I did.
This has been Movie Monday. It won’t be long before we move into February and I will be talking about some romantic comedies as we move closer to Valentine’s Day, so I thought that Scream would be a fun choice, especially since I’ve just watched it recently.
Have a great week.