Thursday, April 28, 2011

Scream. B+

Scream has the power to give nightmares, so despite its tendency to be categorized in the parody genre, it's still a bona fide horror picture. Telling a story of people who have seen far too many scary movies, Wes Craven's film mixes genius and formula while being fully self-aware of the choices it makes in trying to scare us. I was deeply fond of, and equally terrified, of Scream for the first hour or so. It's pretty magnificent what Craven manages to pull off, even if the movie does peter out with a boring finish, and consequently doesn't leave us as frightened as we should be. Scream is deeply in tune with the extensive horror genre, and while it could be said that Craven is poking fun at even his own films, I think he's equally concerned with making a really good movie. Or perhaps more concerned in doing so, for while he's definitely making a commentary on fright flicks, he's also put together a really strong story and a group of characters who are a lot more complex than you'd ever expect. Neve Campbell's Sidney appears to be a direct twin of Nancy from Craven's own A Nightmare on Elm Street, but she turns out to be an intelligent teenager, haunted by the death of her mother, and uncertain as to who she can trust. Then there's the reporter, played by Courtney Cox, who, along with her stalwart cameraman (W. Earl Brown), is glued to the story of the killer because she thinks it will help make a name for herself and her new book. And then there's the teenagers from Sidney's school who like to analyze the situation based on classic horror movies (they reference real films, even some of Craven's own). I'm part of the right demographic for Scream, but I proceed the generation that seems to worship it (the people who saw Scream 4, not because they wanted to see a good movie, but for the purpose of nostalgia). They're the people who were in high school when the movie was released back in 1996. I was only four. While the movie's strengths may seem slightly diminished due to the current rapid state of classic horror movie remakes, Scream was still fresh and inventive. And surprisingly scary as hell. The clever balance of true terror and parody is on full display in the scenes when the killer is running around with his knife. How can someone be so creepy and clever and yet so stupid? Note the the "garage door" scene, or any other for that matter. Craven is playing with us here. He's poking fun at the killer, yet simultaneously making the situation full of suspense. that's part of the genius of Scream.

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