Friday, December 23, 2011

A Very Craven Christmas II: Scream

This movie is in a sort of weird place for me. Being a child of the 90's, I experienced a lot of my friends being into this movie, but I, being a huge wimp at that point in my life, would have nothing to do with it. When I finally watched the movie, though, it was different from what I expected. While my contemporaries had pitched the movie to me by describing the most fucked-up fatalities, that really isn't the most memorable part about it, but that's enough introductionary banter, let's have a looksee at Scream 1.

Being a stereotypical slasher in every sense of the word, Scream's story is about a masked killer going nuts on the teenager population of some small midwestern town. Parties are held despite the multiple murder, and, as one comes to expect in such cases, the body-count continues to rise until the main character gets her Survivor Girl on, albeit in a somewhat more interesting way than what is usual. Scream is a very postmodern horror film, in that the conventions of horror movies not only is important in the movie, but also proves for interesting plot points, as the killer seems to be operating consciously on "slasher rules."
A quick lesson in how slasher movies work from a guy I identify with.

Scream is a fairly clever movie, at least for a slasher. Much of the cleverness comes from the slightly meta aspects of it, granted, but there are some scenes that are quite goddamn clever, involving a time-delay surveillance camera camera and bloody murder.
Also, multiple levels of dramatic irony

Not that metaness is the only thing going for the movie, of course, the dialog is fairly snappy, at least for a slasher, and the movie manages to have multiple characters that are actually sympathetic, which goes a long way in raising the tension. This is something I really wish more horror movies would do. Having one, or at worst one half, sympathetic character and a bunch of assholish walking gorebags does not compelling cinema make.It sorta reflects poorly on us horror fans when the movies we watch seemingly goes to length to justify the bloody murder about to happen. Also, as I mentioned, movies become that much more exciting when they have characters that are possible to relate to in them.

These two, for example

On the topic of horror, well, it's a slasher, so the threat will always be fairly well-telegraphed, which might dimminish it a bit, but the soundtrack goes a long way to make eerieness, and the use of dramatic irony is just pure delicious at times, chiefly in the scene with the camera, as discussed above. Also, the opening scene is fairly famous, but it's well-earned, the way the movie subtly escalates the tension through editing and atmosphere without stepping up the dialog at all. Of course, once the dialog actually steps up to the plate, it gets pretty damn intense.

Scream is one of those movies I always underestimate until I rewatch it again, it's an important horror movie, being the new blood that the horror genre needed back in the 90's, snapping the genre out of the funk of Direct-To-Video and ridiculous franchise milking. Of course, the new scream sequel may constitute as genre milking, but that is merely speculation on my part, as I haven't seen it. If so, that'd be somewhat unfortunate, but if nothing else, the first movie is a solid piece of work and definitely one of those movies that bears a second watch.

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