Scream

Scream ★★★★★

What filmmaker could have the gall to make a slasher after this one? Director Wes Craven chews up the rulebook, one he played a big part in writing, and spits out one of the most rip-roaringly viscerally-exciting horror films ever made. Going meta is increasingly an easy way out; a cheap way to foreground the writer's own intelligence. And while the constant fourth wall-breaks may be grating to some, Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson successfully couch their slasher satire in real-world concerns, recognising that horror is the genre most liable to provoke raucous discussion in the wake of real world tragedies. Who hasn't screamed at the screen hoping Laurie Strode won't open the closet this time around? It's baked into the formula.

Reality is a deciding factor in much of the creative decisions made here. The killer wears a cheap costume even as he talks about the iconic masks worn by horror villains of yesteryear — a costume that now really is as readily available as it is in-universe. The gags about horror film history are funny in themselves, but only become funnier when edited against the movie's more gruesome kills. Meanwhile, even as the characters run the full gamut of the horror high school archetypal registry, in spite of their most clichéd moments they carry at least one unexpectedly human edge. Scream may run a little too long, perhaps, and with a little too little Matthew Lillard for my tastes, but regardless this is a classic through and through.

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