Scream (Wes Craven, 1996): USA

Reviewed by William Conlin. Viewed at The Fe Bland Forum at SBCC.

This semester I am enrolled in Roger Durling’s Film Genres class at Santa Barbara City College. The two genres we are focusing on are comedy and horror. This past week we were treated to a viewing of, in my opinion, one of the only films that successfully blend comedy and horror with out reaching a parody level: Wes Craven’s Scream.

Scream is born out of a love of horror films. Its unending barrage of trivia and “inside jokes” makes is a film buff’s fantasy. The plot follows a young girl named Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell) who is recovering from her mother’s brutal murder one year earlier. When her small town is put on edge by a double homicide Sydney begin to be stalked by a figure wearing a white “ghostface” mask. As more and more people die Sydney must continue to evade the killer while dealing with a nosey reporter (Courteney Cox), the advances of her boyfriend (Skeet Ulrich) and her “protection” from a bumbling deputy (David Arquette).

As we were preparing to watch this film I heard numerous people discuss how much they don’t like it. I myself haven’t seen Scream in nearly 10 years and remembered it as being very campy. What I didn’t take into effect is the fact that now, as a big fan of film, the movie is extremely enjoyable. When I was 10 and just seeing Scream for the first time, I had no knowledge of all the references being made to other films. I feel I was not alone in this, as when I left the class, people had a much more positive response.

Technically, the film is extremely well made for such a small budget. No one ever questions Wes Craven’s ability to make a good scary movie. In the case of Scream, it’s all in the editing. The pace of the movie leaves you with a sense of uneasiness and almost always pays off. Mixed with good cinematography and a good soundtrack, Scream is in my opinion the best slasher film of the last 20 years.

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