With the passing of Wes Craven, who directed classic horror films such as A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes, another iconic film of his has turned 20 years old – Scream. Horror films were dying in the late 90s and people had lost interest in the slasher flicks as most resorted to cliché; ironically after three sequels so did Scream. Kevin Williamson, who wrote the script, provided its clever dialogue and offered a unique twist as well as characters that we came to really care about. Wes Craven’s direction and smart casting choices vaulted Scream to become a commercial and critical success.
Scream takes places in a small town called Woodsboro. A killer is stalking students of Woodsboro High, one who likes to taunt his victims with questions like, “Are you alone in the house?” as well as the quotable fixture, “What’s your favorite scary movie?” Originally titled “Scary Movie,” the title was changed to one that seemed more appropriate. What’s unique about this film is the strong female lead played perfectly by Neve Campbell and the fact that characters in the film such as Randy (Jamie Kennedy) talk and muse about horror movie clichés.
Taking inspiration from the real-life Gainesville Ripper case in Florida and the fact that Kevin Williamson loved horror films such as Halloween, Scream set itself apart from other horror films and breathed new life into the slasher genre. From the opening scene with Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore) to Randy’s rules of surviving a horror film Scream scared us, made us laugh, and kept us glued to our seats. Growing up in the 90s I remember when Scream hit theaters and the iconic costume being worn on Halloween year after year.
Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) hears about the gruesome murder of Casey Becker and everyone around the school is shocked by the event. The students are worried if someone else from the school will be targeted, the cops are trying their best to find the killer, and reporters are everywhere covering the story. Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) finds this story interesting and injects herself into the investigation while working with Deputy Dewey Riley (David Arquette). Students and even the Principal of the school are murdered and the film’s wild finale ends with a bang. Many people are suspected of being the killer including Sidney’s boyfriend Billy (Skeet Ulrich) and even Cotton Weary (Liev Schreiber) who was accused of the rape and murder of Sidney’s mother just one year earlier. Who is the killer and what is the motive? The film doesn’t rush to any conclusions, it keeps us guessing until the final reveal.
What made the film very interesting for me is the characters and the conversations between the killer and his potential victims. Roger Jackson offered the voice of the masked killer and his dialogue scenes were my favorite parts of the film. Sure, I like the idea of someone running away from the killer but adding taunting phone conversations prior to the kill was clever and something that I remember most about the film.
Marco Beltrami was the film’s composer which was highly praised by critics. Scream was highly popular not just in the theaters and Home Video but with the addition of the Ghostface costume being a major seller in stores. In fact, the Ghostface costume was a real costume prior to the film’s release although it was unpopular. Wes Craven found the costume in a costume store in California while looking for ideas that the killer would wear, and because of the film the costume is highly recognized.
With the success of Scream the film went on to produce three more sequels with Scream 2 being released just one year later and proving to be even more successful. Scream is a wild film that is equal parts funny, gory, scary, and one of the most unique horror films to really change the horror genre. Wes Craven was known for making terrifying films and while Scream may not pack the scares as Freddy Krueger once did, Ghostface still made an impact. Thank you Wes Craven. So, “Do you like scary movies?”