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?”