Back in ’96 people had grown tired of horror movies. They’d seen them all and they always knew what would happen. Out of nowhere came Wes Craven’s Scream, a horror movie about teens who had actually seen all horror movies and knew all the horror movie cliches and tropes. Before yesterday I was one of the few people on the planet who was not familiar with the Scream series so I sat down and pretty much did a Scream marathon. One of the most important things about doing a marathon is sitting through both the good movies and the bad ones and well, The marathon certainly had it’s ups and downs, but I really had a great time.
This is the one that started it all, from the legendary opening scene to the fantastic final one, Scream is a smart, surprisingly funny and above all, genuinely scary film. I can’t think of another film that strikes such a perfect balance between horror and comedy. Now I’m someone who has a tough time watching horror films because of the whole dreary atmosphere they create, not with this though, I had a blast watching Scream. What makes this movie so great though, is really the self-awareness, it’s a movie that knows it’s a movie and the script from Kevin Williamson is truly king. The dialogue is razor-sharp and witty, consistently poking fun at itself and the horror genre but the central mystery is what keeps it all extremely intriguing. The performances too are excellent, Neve Campbell gives the best and strongest performance of the film as Sidney Prescott but Courtney Cox, David Arquette and Jamie Kennedy are also very good in their respective roles and Skeet Ulrich nearly steals the show as Billy Loomis.
Scream 2 (1997)
To quote Randy; ”There are certain rules that one must abide by in order to create a successful sequel. Number one: the body count is always bigger. Number two: the death scenes are always much more elaborate – more blood, more gore. And number three: never, ever, under any circumstances, assume the killer is dead” Scream 2 follows all these rules and emerges as a more than worthy sequel to it’s brilliant predecessor, even though it can’t quite match it’s brilliance. Both director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson are up to the task with Scream 2, Craven directs the film with almost the same tenacity as the first once again providing us with a memorable opening scene and the writing from Williamson has gotten even more smarter and self-aware poking fun at sequels this time while also proving that sequels can in fact work. I like the performances too, Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, David Arquette and Jamie Kennedy all do a great job of reprising their roles and liked the addition of Timothy Olyphant to the cast. The entire film too is almost as good as the first one but the disappointing ending is really the only thing that lets it down.
Scream 3 (2000)
Scream was the brainchild of Kevin Williamson and doing a film that wasn’t written by him was always going to be a big mistake but Scream 3 made this mistake and the film is by far the most disappointing film of the entire series. What’s worse though is that they couldn’t find a better writer than Ehren Kruger, the same guy who went on to write the Transformers movies later on. While it definitely has some good moments and it’s great to see, Neve Campbell, David Arquette and Courtney Cox back, this movie simply can’t be saved because the script is just too lackluster and seems to have dropped all the comedy, horror and self-awareness that made the first two great. Everything in this movie from the plot to the final reveal feels like something out of a Scooby-Doo cartoon, in fact the only thing missing is the bad guy saying; ”I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for you meddling kids”. Embarrassing.
Scream 4 (2011)
The final and most underrated movie of the series brought back things to way the way they should have been in the first place, which is having Wes Craven behind the camera and Kevin Williamson writing. Now the meta, self-aware humor is what made the first two films so memorable and the lack of it made the third one forgettable, Scream 4 brought it back and this time the joke was about the latest trend of horror remakes. The film is also by far the most gory film of the entire series, the deaths are more bloody than suspenseful and a lot of the plot feels like a remake of the first film – a direction the film deliberately takes – but then it isn’t quite a remake. There are a lot of this movie that feel off and out-of-place too though and the twist is kind of a mixed bag, all though it’s surprising and has some great shock value, it’s not particularly memorable. I also think the new additions of Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Rory Culkin are pretty okay ones and I wasn’t all that impressed with their characters. All in all though, it’s still a satisfying and entertaining end to the franchise that feels very relevant to 2011.
Overall Score: 8.4/10