And then there's Scream.
Scream (Wes Craven, natch; 1996) is scary. Scream is funny. Scream is so tightly written, directed and edited that you barely notice two hours go by. Best of all, Scream shamelessly panders to the horror buffs in the audience. It pays twisted homage to the great-not-good slashers of yore while thumbing its nose at the genre's cliches. At times, Scream is less a horror film than a love letter to its predecessors, and yet it's often better than the films it pretends to rip off.
|I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.|
There's not a lot I don't love about Scream, but there are aspects that I find bemusing. Principally, the killer -- retroactively dubbed Ghostface -- seems to be a bit of a misfit in ye olde slasher canon. Most horror villains derive their staying power from their utter inscrutability: picture the blank and silent Michael and Jason, or the lumbering Leatherface. Ghostface is more in the flamboyant Freddy Krueger vein, but he's neither as grimy nor as grotesque as Krueger. Characterized by flirtatious pre-slaying crank calls, the ritualistic cleaning of his blade, and an odd tendency to get kicked in the balls, Ghostface veers uncertainly between glamor and effeminacy. It makes a little more sense when his true identity is revealed, but Ghostface is still an odd anomaly in a film that purports to follow the splatter bible by rote.
In intention and execution Scream is quite similar to 2012's The Cabin in the Woods (Drew Goddard). Despite its being released over 15 years earlier, I think Scream is the more successful of the two films. Its big finale is certainly truer to its humble splatter-flick roots: Scream reinvents its conventions where Cabin in the Woods in content to merely bulldoze them. The scene in which Sidney assumes Ghostface's mantle to terrorize the killer beneath, for instance, redefines the much-maligned "Final Girl" stereotype. What's that Nietzsche quote? "Battle not with monsters lest ye become a monster; and if you gaze into the abyss the abyss gazes into you." I'm aware that I'm babbling nonsense, so I'm just going to insert a picture of Rose McGowan here and get on with the review.
|Scream is set in California, except for this one scene which apparently takes place at the North Pole.|