Thursday, 29 November 2018

Scream

Things have a habit of becoming part of the pop culture. Even if they were intended to shock or surprise at the time. What is the secret of Soylent Green? What is the planet of the apes? Who was the third man? And so on.

Despite that, the following comments will be in spoilers, on the off chance someone somewhere reads this thread and hasn't watched, nor knows anything of

Scream (1996)


In which case, did I say it was dated? Very much so, but it still holds up better than many modern horrors, and has several unsettling moments, so go check it out.




So this film helps turn into tropes two famous twists. That being biggest star in the thing Drew Barrymore dying within 15 minutes, and the non-red herring which actually is one, because there are two killers. Drew Barrymore's death has shades of a similar trick in A Nightmare in Elm Street, and both of course are just one of the many homages to Psycho that Wes Craven made throughout his career. (Also, here's a Scream Killer trick question/answer for you - Who dies first in Scream? It's the boyfriend everyone forgets!) The first 15 minutes set piece is actually staggeringly unsettling even now, as Barrymore becomes more and more distressed, and gets a few dreaded spots of hope before being brutally murdered.

The other twist is the two killers, which is so close to being an untwist as possible. Who could be the killer? The most obvious suspect? Well, we're lead to believe it isn't him, right till the point he gives a Anthony Perkins style smile holding a gun. The twist is there are two of them, but the untwist is in Matthew Lillard's performance, who plays sidekick killer Stu in the most OTT Danish ham way possible, the twist would have been if this guy didn't do it.

I'll note here that many folk point out that Stu uses the "I'll be right back" knowing he's safe, because he's one of the killers. Well, look out a few scenes later for poor old Kenny the camera man, and his forgetting the camera had a 30 second time delay (a wonderful Chekhov's Gun, because it's so obvious but I find the audience tends to forget it right till they see that open door) - "Be right back!" The movie delights in pointing out the tropes of horror, then sliding them in when the audience guard is down anyhow.

What else to say? Henry Winkler puts in a nice cameo, complete with Heyyy, and the appearance of Wes Craven as a surly old janitor called Fred raised many a chuckle from us when younger. Speaking of Craven, even in this fourth wall breaking funny film, he still manages to produce unsettling horror scenes - there's nothing funny about the famous opening, or many of the other deaths, usually because he manages to cast his films very well, and also because he was a superior director to pretty much every other horror director going at the time, and many of the non-genre ones too. Look back at Elm Street, and actually count how much gore is on screen, to how much is in your mind. Ditto here, for a film coated in stab wounds, you can count the number you actually see on screen on one hand. He learned from Hitch, and he learned well.