|Written by Bill Warren|
|Wednesday, 03 December 1997|
While a similar barrage of predictable slashing and thrashing has been done before, horror master Wes Craven cranks up the production values, updates the dialogue and smartens up the characters to bring this tired genre into the '90's.
Basically, you already know the story. Some psycho is running around and grotesquely killing high school kids, though the victims in Scream are a whole lot tougher than generations past. These victims get in some good kicks and punches before their untimely deaths. All I can say, without giving anything away, is that the use of cordless and cellular telephones delivers an inventiveness in stalking terror that will bring you right out of your seat.
The general ambivalence of the victim's high school classmates reveals its own chilling social commentary in Kevin Williamson's clever and original screenplay. When the main character learns about the first murder from her friend, she responds, "She sat next to me in English" to which her friend replies emotionlessly "Not anymore." Still, you find yourself laughing because Scream is not just a rejuvenation of the stereotypical slasher flick, it is an homage and a lampoon of the genre itself complete with the janitor in the hallway, dressed like Freddy Krueger from Craven's own Nightmare on Elm Street.
Scream is carried off by a group of young actors who are the epitome of their generation. From TV land, 'Party of Five's, Neve Campell is cute, witty and deadly, while 'Friend's' Courteney Cox is a bitchy and self-centered media personality. No stereotypes here. David Arquette is the town's bumbling deputy, hot on the case to find the murderer and Skeet Ulrich performance is almost irrelevant as he just keeps reminding you of Johnny Depp. Drew Barrymore snags the title away from Jamie Lee Curtis to become the new Scream Queen, unfortunately, she won't be around for the sequels.
While the DVD transfer is very good, the main reason you should watch Scream on DVD rather than VHS tape is the 5.1 soundtrack, which heightens the overall suspense and impact for more terrifying thrills and chills.
I am surprised as anyone to say I enjoyed this film, and I am not a fan of the genre at all. So, if you are a fan of the genre, I can't imagine why you won't find Scream a real kick.
Now for the warnings, in case you need any. This movie is a bloody mess with some extremely gruesome deaths. But, if you can get through all of that, it is chock full of suspense, a few surprises and plenty of laughs for relief.