Dir. Wes Craven (1996)
The small town of Woodboro falls victim to a serial killer. Seriously, you don’t know what Scream is about?
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Sometimes a movie comes along that is a needed shot to the arm for an entire genre. Star Wars did it for science fiction, Indiana Jones brought back the adventure genre, and Showgirls rejuvenated Elizabeth Berkeley’s career (wait, that’s not right…) Scream most decidedly did it for the slasher movie. A genre which was festering in the floundering B-movie industry, filled movies that were far more miss than hit, slasher movies had lost the undying support of fans as once-popular franchises decided to turn to more and more outlandish concepts to drag the dead corpse of the series along. Jason went to Manhattan, the Leprechaun went to space, and Michael Myers had somehow become involved with a murder cult. Fans clamored for new ideas rather than rehashes of the old ones, and somewhere in Hollywood, Wes Craven was listening. Scream burst onto the scene in 1996, establishing the horror credentials of a new generation of Scream Queens and well-known television stars. It also opened with the brutal murder of one of the most famous celebrities in the world, a mindblowing sequence that showed horror fans that they had no idea what to expect from there on out.
Scream was a critique of the entire genre of horror while at the same time being a love letter to the same. The old “rules” of slasher movies were both explained, celebrated and then crushed, with Final Girl Sidney directly violating the “No Sex” rule and somehow managing to survive five different movies (spoiler, I’m not sorry). Wes Craven managed to create a movie that was funny, heartwarming, and scary at the same time, paving the way for not only the future of slasher-dom but also reinvigorating the horror comedy genre.
Scream was a movie for the information age, singlehandedly raising the sales of the newfangled caller id nationwide. This movie wasn’t for teens alone: the constant throwbacks and references to Your Parents’ Movies were satisfying and relentless; each time, however, the adages on which horror fans grew up were rebuked. Stu, one of the killers, says the fatal line “I’ll be right back.” Randy, the horror nerd, is attacked but survives. Gale, played brilliantly by television superstar Courtney Cox, gives every indication her character will be fodder for the body count yet remains a series mainstay to this day. Craven brilliantly subverted our expectations while maintaining the large bodycount the slasher faithful had come to expect, and by doing so created his SECOND hugely successful franchise, something no other filmmaker has been able to do.
Powered by excellent performances, brilliant direction, and enough Ghostface to satisfy even the most ardent gorehound, Scream became exactly what horror needed to become: mainstream. It is the reason we have so many hugely budgeted horror today, and it is the reason you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a horror movie in theaters. For that, we should be grateful, because we are no longer in the dark ages of horror. Some of the best movies being made today are horror. Robert Eggers is making art with films like The VVitch and The Lighthouse, while Ari Aster has invented his own horror aesthetic. The Conjuring franchise is raking in millions of dollars and paving the way for even greater returns in the future. This doesn’t happen without Scream proving that horror could be profitable (and fun) again.
Who this movie is for: Slasher fans, Classic horror fans, People who really hate Drew Barrymore and want to watch her suffer
Bottom line: Literally everyone watched Scream, and if you haven’t seen it in a while, you should watch it again to appreciate just how good this movie is. Packed with stars, it’s one of the most flatout enjoyable horror films of all time. Wes Craven shows himself to love horror as much as the rest of us, dedicating this film to all of the ones we’ve loved before. For real, don’t sleep on Scream: it’s scary good.