Do You Like Scary Movies?

Scream (1996)

“There are certain RULES!”

One of those rules is that when someone asks you if you want to re-watch Scream, YOU SAY YES! (Okay now I’m just paraphrasing totally unrelated semi-Halloweeny movies; Wes Craven would approve of the metaness, maybe?)

I fucking love Scream. If Ghostface asked me what my favorite scary movie is, I’d be cheating a little because I don’t actually find it scary, but I’d say Scream. It’s one of my all-time favorite movies, and when a good excuse to rewatch it comes up, it’s happening.

Scattered reactions!

  • The opening scene made me want popcorn and I didn’t have any popcorn 😦
  • I’m just going to headcanon that Ghostface decided to kill Casey when she said all of the Nightmare on Elm Street sequels were bad. I mean, how dare you.
  • SOMEONE ACTUALLY SAYS “THESE KIDS TODAY” ABOUT ALL THE MURDERS BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, THESE KIDS TODAY, WITH THE HAIR AND THE MUSIC AND ALL THE MURDERING. A WELL-DOCUMENTED PROBLEM WITH “THESE KIDS TODAY.”
  • Also, the principal expels some kids whose prank was admittedly pretty gross, but expelling them feels like an overreaction even before he starts foaming at the mouth while ranting about their “havoc-inducing, thieving, whoring generation.” (Whoa, dude.) I think basically what’s happening here is Craven wants to comment on the whole ineffectual authority figure thing you usually get in movies like this, but instead of having him not believe Sidney or some weird bullshit like that, he decides to highlight it by having him go completely too far in the other direction (while still preserving the trope of the poor bastard getting offed about midway through the film).
  • Also, the principal expels some kids whose prank was admittedly pretty gross, but expelling them feels like an overreaction even before he starts foaming at the mouth while ranting about their “havoc-inducing, thieving, whoring generation.” (Whoa, dude.) I think basically what’s happening here is Craven wants to comment on the whole ineffectual authority figure thing you usually get in movies like this, but instead of having him not believe Sidney or some weird bullshit like that, he decides to highlight it by having him go completely too far in the other direction (while still preserving the trope of the poor bastard getting offed about midway through the film).
  • Hey! Mass Effect players!!! … Sidney used a Renegade interrupt on Gale. You know the one.
  • “Wes Carpenter”
  • I high-key wanna fool around with someone who’s wearing a Ghostface costume.
  • My name is Sidney Prescott. You killed my mother. Prepare to die.

“What’s your favorite scary movie?”

(S-Rank)

Scream 2

It must be said that it’s pretty fucking awkward that this film opens with a black woman complaining about how white horror movies are, and then after her and her boyfriend are disposed of (in an admittedly pretty great scene), we cut back to the all-white main cast from the previous film and Sidney’s new black roommate. There’s also some effort made to make a large number of the background characters black, which is certainly better than having literally every character in this movie be white like the first film, but it’s still not great. And the characters are treated as very disposable (sometimes literally).

Neve Campbell continues to make Sidney one of my favorite horror protagonists of all time, a trend that will continue throughout the series. And Courtney Cox’s Gale Weathers has to be pretty high on any list of best supporting horror franchise characters. The kills in this are pretty good, though what appears to be one of the best kills of the series actually ends up being a non-kill when we later find out the character survived. (It’s still a pretty great sequence, though.)

I didn’t mind the killer reveal in this one necessarily, and I actually kind of love some of the logic behind it and misdirection involved. But to be perfectly honest, I considered it probably the weakest one in the series overall. The first one packed a lot more of an emotional punch (and was weirdly kinky?), and the third and fourth ones just felt like stronger characterizations.

Still, this is a pretty damn strong sequel with a lot of the same strengths as the original, and they could make like 20 more of these things and I would watch every single one.

(A-Rank)

Scream 3

Okay, let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first. First of all, the soundtrack for this thing features entirely too much Scott Stapp. Like, holy shit. I went through a pretty pronounced phase of thinking that Creed was cool when I was in high school, but I totally forgot that wasn’t just something I went through as an individual, but something we all went through together as a nation.

Second of all, it’s super uncomfortable that a central thrust of Scream 3’s plot is sexual assault in Hollywood and that it’s treated so (relatively) lightly. Obviously this movie isn’t endorsing sexual assault in the film industry, I’m just not sure that’s the best place to mine for a somewhat tongue-in-cheek horror movie plot.

So, yeah, there’s those things, but then there’s like… literally everything else about this movie. There’s a confidence to the franchise at this point that makes me wish the series had gone on for like twelve more movies instead of just one more movie over ten years later. Everything between Dewey and Gale is glorious. The way Randy and his “rules” are incorporated is unabashedly silly, and a lot of franchises would never have the intestinal fortitude to do that.

More importantly, the killer reveal in this one is dramatically better than Scream 2, and the fact that Sidney gets in a literal fist fight with Ghostface after this reveal is everything I have ever wanted out of this series. Speaking of how fucking badass Sidney is, at some point in my life I want people to be as shocked/happy to see me as they are when Sid shows up halfway through the film, and every time I enter a room I want to get the kind of heroic soundtrack flourish that she gets. (Honestly, though, she deserves it and I don’t.)

I fucking love this series.

Scream 4

This is the first time I’ve seen Scream 4 since I saw it in the theaters, and I’ve been running around saying positive/defensive things about it ever since, so I was mildly concerned that it would fall apart when subjected to the scrutiny of a second viewing and I would feel silly for having been its cheerleader for years. But luckily, nope! In fact, rewatching it improved my opinion. It’s just as good as the other two sequels. Hell, it might be the best of the three? (I’m not sure it is, I’m just saying it’s definitely in the running.)

This also very well might be my favorite killer of the series. Not the glorified accomplice sidekick, but the main killer. I can see the motive here being read a bit too closely with a lot of lazy critiques of the millennial generation, but taken as its own thing, I fucking love the reveal in this one. I love how in control of the situation the killer is once they’re revealed. I love the lengths they go to to set up the scene for when the cops arrive. And I love how uncomfortably sexy and dominant the killer’s mannerisms are. Totally in control of the situation (at one point literally having a victim bound and gagged at their feet while they explain their motive/plan).

That being said, one of the really interesting things about the Scream franchise that I don’t think gets talked about enough is that it’s one of the only slasher franchises where the major unifying thread isn’t the villain, but the protagonists. Because at the end of the day, Ghostface can be fucking anyone. Sometimes it’s two people. Sometimes it’s one. At the end of the day, it’s just a mask, a knife, and a voicechanger.

At one point the frustrated killer asks Sidney, “Who are you, Michael fucking Myers?” and it’s a reasonable question. Four movies in, and she just won’t fucking die. Because Ghostface, as awesome and iconic as the mask is, is not the focal point of this franchise. It’s Sidney. And Gale. And Dewey. And like Sidney tells the killer late in the film, you don’t fuck with the originals.

What I really love is what this film does with that. In several separate instances throughout the film, Sidney and Gale go toe-to-toe with Ghostface in physical confrontations. It’s exactly what I loved about the ending of Scream 3, only more of it! And while some might see this as a betrayal of the necessary components of a good slasher movie, I just see it as believable character progression. Sidney’s on the same level as Ghostface now, whoever is wearing that mask. While everyone around them is just going to run and scream and maybe get stabbed, Sidney and Gale are both more than willing to punch that fucker right in his masked face, or to tackle him and go tumbling down the stairs with him. It doesn’t really even detract from the menace posed by Ghostface, either. You still buy him as a threat.

I don’t know how I’d feel about a Scream movie without Wes Craven, and I’m pretty okay with this being the last one, but part of me really wants them to make another go of it. Apparently there were seven Stab movies. Seven Scream movies sounds pretty fantastic to me. And apparently Stab 5 involves time travel, which we already had proof of concept of in Happy Death Day.

Anyway, long live Sidney Prescott, long live Ghostface, long live the fact that I probably find the Ghostface costume way sexier than I’m supposed to, and most of all, long live my favorite horror franchise of all time.

(A-Rank)

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