Movie junkie Jess Robbins picks a frightening flick for a Saturday night.
My first taste of the internet was in the early 90s, my grandparents had a computer long before we ever did, and my grandpa, being the techie that he was, had the internet before anyone else Id known at the time. I was a big dork even then and loved the little storybooks that they had installed, I once told my brother Id rather watch TVOs Arthur instead of The Simpsons because Arthur was more educational. The 90s were a simpler time. Im sure I really only believe this because I was a child, but things are most certainly different. Around 96 we had finally gotten a longer cord for our telephone, one of those newfangled desktop computers (with the Pinball game and Encarta pre-installed on it) and dial up internet. It really wasnt that long ago, though, was it?
SCREAM has been, and I hope always will be, an experience for me. Ive often joked that Ill be in the mood to watch the first film, and then before I know it its 2am and Im popping SCREAM 4 into the blu-ray player, nobody ever realizes that I am being completely serious. While not very scary, SCREAM stands the test of time for me not just for nostalgic purposes but because the technology, the references, and the self-aware nonsense grows and changes with each film. They change the rules based on classic horror franchises: sequels are always bloodier, third films typically suck (not sure if that was completely intended), and by the time a fourth one rolls around, its usually time to revamp, make it more accessible for younger audiences. In my humble opinion, SCREAM is a beautifully crafted horror franchise, so thank you very much Wes Craven.
Wes Craven was one of those directors whos films had a specific flavor to them. I remember when CURSED came out, at the time I was fifteen, and hadnt gone as far down the film nerd rabbit hole as I am now, and I began watching without knowing who the director of the film was. It didnt matter though because about halfway through I turned to who I was watching with and said, Ok this must be the same director as A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. Kind of like when I was younger and my grandfather always used to make the most delicious food, and there was this secret ingredient I never could figure out. He passed away about six years ago now. Last year I was at a friends, and they had put together a bread dip, I tried it and was suddenly flooded with this memory of my grandfather. I asked what was in the dip that made it so amazing and they said it was truffle oil. That honestly is the best way I can describe Wes Craven. Witty villains, self awareness, and some strong-ass women was to Wes Craven as truffle oil was to Poppa Dave, you could pick out the secret ingredient a mile away. All this to say that Wes Cravens own delicious little brand of horror I am certain will not only serve as time-capsules for the decades in which his films dominated, but for the iconic characters he created.
Anyway, enough waxing lyrical. SCREAM stars Neve Campbell as Sydney Prescott, a girl who becomes the obsession of a Halloween masked serial killer, hellbent on making her life a living hell by killing her friends, and quizzing them about classic horror films on their corded or cordless telephones (the transition hadnt yet been completed). Starring alongside Campbell are Matthew Lillard as the goofy tough guy Stu, Rose McGowan as the cool and beautiful Tatum, Skeet Ulrich as love interest Billy, and finally Jamie Kennedy as the nerdy, and horror obsessed Randy. Tempers flare as the teens, with the help of Tatums older brother Deputy Dewey, and star reporter Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) try to find out who the killer is, when it becomes clear that it could be anyone in their small town, most likely someone from their own high school.
Sydney Prescott is a fearless and persistent protagonist. Throughout the films, after enduring the deaths of friends, loved ones and the constant assault from not one, not two, but by the end of the series (if Ive counted correctly) SEVEN people who have wanted her dead, Sydney keeps standing back up, no doubt with scars, nerve damage, emotional trauma, and continues to kick some Edvard Munch ass. She is a strong female lead that hardly needs the help from her male counterparts. Craven succeeded in creating a fierce female character without losing the interest of the male audience, or making women feel like they are being pandered to. I feel like Campbell deserves a ton of credit for churning out such a diverse character.
Randy Meeks (Kennedy) is all of us watching these films. He is the kid curled up on the couch yelling Turn around Jamie! the one trying to work out the mystery and solve the crime (even though it is not his job to do so), he becomes suspicious of everyone, and decides that following the rules is the best way to stay alive. Randy was one of my first loves, appropriately so given my line of work now.
As I mentioned, SCREAM is one of those films I could watch a thousand times and never get sick of. So much of my time has been spent watching and re-watching and marathoning with friends. In the fourth film the kids have a huge party where they marathon the STAB films and get drunk, and Ive wanted to throw a SCREAM party like that ever since I saw it. But tonight, you can settle for watching SCREAM (1996), alone in your house, with jiffy pop, your best white trainers, and your boyfriend whos big and plays football AND WILL KICK THE SHIT OUT OF YOU.