FIVE STAR FILMS #16: SCREAM (1996)

Director Wes Craven has quite the track record, having made at least one iconic horror film each decade since the seventies (The Last House On The Left, A Nightmare On Elm Street etc etc). Yet it was his 1996 team-up with Dawson’s Creek scribe Kevin Williamson that created a whole new sub-genre. Meta, murderous and magnificent, Scream is the kind of horror classic that never diminishes with replay. It had us all asking the question – what’s your favourite scary movie?

 

1. The opening

Not since Psycho has a top-billing cast member been killed off so effectively. Scream’s opening minutes were the first clue that the audience were in for a slasher flick unlike anything they’d seen before.

2. The rules

  1. You can never have sex. “Sex equals death, okay?”
  2. You can never drink or do drugs. “The sin factor! It’s a sin. It’s an extension of number one.”
  3. “Never, ever, ever under any circumstances say, ‘I’ll be right back’.”

3. It’s, like, so meta man

Talk about meta: Wes Craven as the disgruntled janitor in Scream, dressed as Freddy Krueger.

Having characters comment on the very conventions of the genre film they’re starring in? Why, that’s just crazy talk! Crazily good talk, that is. Scream exists in our world – a world where horror movies exist – and are therefore referenced in every second line of searingly witty dialogue. It so often danced the line between horror and comedy, but thanks to Craven’s control and the committed performances Scream remains a clever commentary instead of pitiful parody.

4. Jamie-Lee Curtis’ career summed up in a line (thanks Randy)

“She didn’t show her tits until she went legit.”

5. Sequels

As beautifully illustrated in the film class scene in Scream 2, sequels rarely live up to the original. What the Scream franchise managed is three consistently enjoyable, scary and intelligent sequels. Yes, that includes Scream 3, which is unfairly slammed (perhaps because Scream 2 is so damn good and expectations were high?). A decade after the last entry in the franchise, last year’s Scream 4 might have underwhelmed at the box office but it certainly didn’t underwhelm in quality. Somehow it managed to be just as original and poignant as the first, while boasting an awesome ensemble cast and commenting on society’s current obsession with fame. Will there be a Scream 5? Hopefully. If not, at least we got four endlessly quotable, endlessly watchable horror movies.

Maria Lewis - follow Maria on Twitter here: @moviemazz