The opening scene in Scream is one of my favorite opening sequences of any horror film. Beginning with a naive Drew Barrymore giving away too much information to a stranger on the phone, the stranger poses an interesting question in his intensely creepy voice: “What’s your favorite scary movie?”
The question sets the tone for a film revolving around a psychopath dressed in a Ghostface Halloween costume killing off teenagers while following a specific set of horror film “rules” that only Randy (Jamie Kennedy), a horror movie buff, could explain so well. Watching Casey (Drew Barrymore) attempt to call for her mother as her mother listens helplessly on the phone as the killer stabs her daughter is a gut-wrenching experience.
Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), a high school student, suffered the loss of her mother when she was murdered the year prior. Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), a local newswoman, believes that the man in jail for Sidney’s mother’s murder is innocent and that the new murders are somehow linked back to her. Sidney is a target of the killer, (smartly) untrusting of most people around her, and, as I’m sure you can surmise on your own judging from the many sequels, ultimately our heroine.
One of the best parts about seeing Scream for the first time was guessing who the killer could be. Wes Craven did a great job making everyone a suspect with intentionally specific shots paired with ominous music, such as a policeman’s familiar shoe putting out a cigarette or a sheriff deputy’s crooked smile that could be seen as endearing or menacing depending on how you look at it.
Though Scream is a slasher film, it’s so much fun to watch. There are tons of small references that are just for the horror fans (Rose McGowan’s character Tatum referencing a “Wes Carpenter” film is one of my favorites.) The notion that a girl being chased by a killer should be running out the door and not up the stairs the way they do in most horror films is pointed out by Sidney, yet not much later in the film she is chased up her own stairs, proving that no matter what you think you would do, you never really know until you’re personally in a terrifying position. Scream is cognizant of its own cliches and plays to them as it shows you in real time how the horror rules really work. Matthew Lillard, Jamie Kennedy and even Henry Winkler provide comic relief, and as a result the movie never gets too heavy, but make no mistake: there are tons of tense moments, and the scene just before the opening credits is truly gruesome. The shots and direction of this movie combined with the whodunnit aspect and humor make it a nearly unbeatable combination.
Jessica's Final Review
Scream is a movie that I can watch over and over without getting sick of it. It is, in my eyes, a special treat from Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven to the true horror fans, and of my favorite movies - ever.