Guest post – Scream


By Kevin Miller

One must at least appreciate the effort of a film that pokes sarcastically at its own genre and simultaneously epitomizes the characteristics that define that genre. In one breath, Wes Craven outlines the steps of creating a cheap thrill for an anticipating audience: “They’re all the same. Some stupid killer, stalking some big-breasted girl who can’t act, who’s always running up the stairs when she should be running out the front door.” In the next breath, Neve Campbell takes an inordinate amount of time to open a single closet door to check for Ghostface. Cue the swell of overly dramatic, critically acclaimed music.

So here we are. Scream. The Fonz, dead. Knives placed delicately in the foreground of the frame, ever so slightly out of focus. A verbally articulate killer who can never quite figure out how to move the very moveable items that are blocking his entrance to the room. Also note that this is the same killer than can only ever manage to run just behind his prey. Amateur.

Like Craig and Tim, this movie makes me feel a certain reminiscence as I recall its debut during the closing of my high school career. For me, the film was somehow much more frightening in the late nineties than in 2013. When I was asked to watch and write some thoughts about Scream, I immediately remembered what I felt the first time I watched the blonde best friend get trapped in a garage door, as the audience is startled by the crackling electricity of the grinding motors. Kevin in the nineties had a grimace on his face. “I can’t believe what just happened. It’s gruesome! It’s terrifying! I can’t look away.” Kevin in 2013 just chuckled and checked Facebook again. I feel that there is likely a social commentary in there somewhere.

I can’t deny that I have been thoroughly entertained by this film in both the nineties and (slightly less so) today. I can’t deny the influence that this film had on many that followed (I Know What You Did Last Summer, Final Destination, etc.). The film played a part in revitalizing the horror genre and we mustn’t forget that is was the highest grossing slasher film in the US. Nevertheless, I continue to have a difficult time taking this film seriously. In trying to be both gruesome and humorous, in trying to poke fun at the clichés and utilize them, I feel that it doesn’t do any of it particularly well.

Don’t get me wrong, Scream is a fantastically entertaining and mindless film and I know I should relax my judgement – it’s not a film that wants to be taken seriously. Afterall, Scream is “more of a game, really. Can you handle that, blondie?”


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