Scream

Scream ★★★★½

Scream is a comedy horror film directed by Wes Craven and written by Kevin Williamson, and compared to other films of this genre, it doesn't sacrifice the horror for the humour. It genuinely surprised me how well it balances the two and I enjoyed this film a lot more than I expected it to.

The plot is also a whodunnit murder mystery, and while I can't say the reveal was the biggest shock ever, the film does throw a few clues and red herrings at you to throw you off the trail. The grim reaper style mask is a simple yet a very effective design for the killer known as Ghostface, and I like that the costume is pretty much a halloween costume pretty much anybody could buy and then when you see some of the oddball characters.... yep, I suspected almost everyone, even some of the females. Its sense of mystery makes for a satisfyingly tense experience.

The performances in this are really good too. The star of the show for me simply has to be Roger L. Jackson, who does the voice acting for Ghostface when he is calling his intended victims, and it really sets the tone for the film, his voice kinda has that creepy playfulness about it, before it would suddenly turn sinister and sadistic, completely toying with his victim. He gives the character a real edge. Neve Campbell also give an excellent performance as the central character Sidney Prescott, who is repeatedly being targeted by Ghostface. Her focus is not only surviving the mysterious killer, but also moving on from her grief her mother was brutally murdered. Skeet Ulrich is also very entertaining to watch as Billy Loomis, the boyfriend of Sidney.

Wes Craven, himself a director of the horror classic A Nightmare on Elm Street, uses this film to completely satirise the slasher genre, with many clichés from these films thrown in. The one he seems to target most is of course Halloween, so much so he has a group of characters watching the film together, while cleverly using John Carpenter's classic score in places. One moment that had me laughing was when one of the characters in the film calls him Wes Carpenter.

The cinematography is excellent and I loved some of the subtle things done with reflective surfaces and other cool things they did with the visuals. I wish I was more well versed in the horror genre than I actually am because this film spoils you with so many cool easter eggs. Theres a fun little scene I'm sure everyone will have noticed where theres a janitor is wearing a red and green sweater, and I'm pretty confident I missed a lot of great references from films I am not familiar with.

It is smart in its meta-humour that is pretty fun to watch for the most part, although there was a few characters I did find got pretty annoying with it (hence the missing half-star), most of it is handled in a way that is very funny. My favourite is the very unsubtle line... "Don't kill me Mr. Ghostface, I need to be in the sequel". For most people, including myself the overuse of jump scares are an absolute plague on modern horror films, and this film satirises this perfectly with some purposeful over the top jump scares that definitely got a few chuckles out of me.

As mentioned before, it doesn't lose its sense of horror in achieving this, the way the killer is portrayed in this movie feels very real. You really could see someone killing over a crazy obsession with horror movies. This does have a very real sense of tension to it, plus it does do a good job of making you suspect everyone, giving you an uncomfortable feeling with almost any of the characters. It tells an engaging story in it's own right, plus the kills are still brutal to watch and it actually had me off guard, especially the excellent opening scene which I will not spoil, I thought set the tone perfectly.

Overall Scream holds up extremely well. I can definitely see why it has been seen as a revival for the horror genre in the 90's after the classics from the 70s and 80s was getting and endless amount of poor sequels and unoriginal knock-offs. This was a rare example of a horror movie that brought something completely different to the table at that time. An absolute must watch.

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