Luke H’s review published on Letterboxd:
“This That Shit Deadpool Coulda Been”
A reworking of the track by JPEGMAFIA
I was in middle school when Cabin in the Woods came out, and when I dragged my close friends to go see it, I was surprised to find out they all hated it. They didn’t appreciate how “not scary” it was: how cliche and predictable all of its twists and turns were. I sat there, listening to them tear the film apart, thinking about how every single thing they hated was what I loved about it. There’s no need to retread the ways in which that film integrates common tropes of horror movies, but as a young film buff, I was floored at what you could do with film when you know all of its tricks.
I used to think I hated meta commentaries. I never appreciated the cynicism, the knowingness, and the winking attitude of a filmmaker who believes they know better than me. Not only did I find these exercises in one-ups-manship tiring and outplayed, but I was even more annoyed at how popular the majority of them tended to be. Yes, I’m specifically talking about Deadpool, Birdman, and many other horror sequels and comic book movies who find themselves to be so clever and above the rest of the mediocrity. There are many films with meta elements that I love, namely Kairostami’s Close-Up and Mulholland Drive. What always loses me, however, is the filmmaker getting too cocky and flashy. It’s like the purpose of their film morphs from an expression of a theme or a piece of entertainment to a pissing contest on “Who knows more about film and filmmaking?!”
Maybe that’s why I held off on watching Scream for so long. Maybe that’s why, having seen every possible parody and hearing every possible reference to it, I never bothered to watch it. But, I saw it on Showtime today, while isolating myself from the world as all good citizens currently are, and I took a swing. At worst, I’d be wasting my time that is in excess (due to an extended, COVID-19 sponsored spring break).
I’m glad to say that I was floored by how intelligent and unpredictable this film was, even knowing as much as I did about the film and all of the films it was referencing. Not only is Scream a prime example of how metacinema can be done effectively, but it is a bonafide perfect horror film on its own merits. The opening scene, bereft of any of the silliness the film will later develop, is a genuinely terrifying bit of horror filmmaking.
I’m so glad I finally watched this because it was so refreshing amidst all of the shit going on right now. To be genuinely surprised by a movie, in a good way, is something we all chase constantly. It’s what makes film exciting and worthwhile. Even if it’s a commercial blockbuster or a small indie flick, it’s just nice to feel like you’re seeing something you haven’t seen before. Even if you have, Atleast to see it in a new way.