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Monday, November 26, 2012

Scream - review (1996) 31 Days of Horror #24

Premise:  Sydney Prescott is trying to get over the brutal death of her mother when a slasher comes to town to complete some unfinished business.

Review:  One reason this film has withstood the test of time is it starts with one of the scariest opening scenes ever.  Period.  Those ten minutes with Drew Barrymore, a telephone and some Jiffy Pop rocketed Scream into the realms of pop culture history.  When I first saw it in the theater years back I was gripping my arm rests throughout the entire scene.  It was such an enjoyably terrifying sequence I wish there was a pill I could take to forget it so I could re-visit it and experience the terror all over.  Obviously others people felt the same, which is why even today many horror films still start with a quick stand alone opening sequence.  

Luckily the film doesn't stop entertaining there, it provides a uniquely (at least for back then) self aware horror tale that is not only scary, but also humorous, mysterious and innovative.  By reflecting back on older films from the genre it set itself apart from the rest.  From the opening scene there are plenty of clever references to the decades of slasher film predecessors.  The characters are knowledgeable about horror films, knowing who Freddt Krueger, Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers are.  They also know what happens when you say, "I'll be right back."  Throughout the film there are knowing winks at the audience acknowledging the often silly conventions of the horror movies before it.  Sure, many films have also ended up copying the entire self-aware play on horror, but Scream will always be the innovator.   

Neve Campbell does a great job playing Sydney, the strong, virginal heroin.  David Arquette is likable as her kind of dim brother that is also tracking down the killer.  Jamie Kennedy gives the performance of his career (not saying much, but he is good) as Randy, the horror loving friend that provides us with the rules of successfully surviving a horror film.

Overall, the film is not perfect; there is at least one killing that is unnecessary and the final quarter of the film is not as clever as it should have been.  The film does show its age in parts which at time only adds to the charm.  If you have not seen it yet, I recommend you also check out the under appreciated Scream 4.

Scariness:              3.5 out of 5     Great opening scares - not as effective afterwards. 

Violence/ Gore:     2.5 out of 5     A good deal of blood and violence, not too heavy though.

Story:                     4.0 out of 5     Good old fashioned horror whodunnit with some self-awareness. 

Overall rating (as a film, not just a horror film):  8.0 out of 10  (If this is your first time watching it, jack that rating up to a 9.)

Check out the rest of the reviews for FilmSnork's 31 Days of Horror here.  

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