Top 5 things I learnt watching Scream
Spoilers and that, but it came out seventeen years ago, so you should probably catch up on your watching.
#5 – Teenage boys are disgusting sex pests
This isn’t a huge revelation, granted, but the urge to give Skeet Ulrich’s character a stern lecture on respect remains strong. Poor teenage Neve Campbell got a bit twitchy after seeing her mum get ripped apart like a sad fox, and consequently won’t let him mount her for more than eight seconds – and he’s getting his grump on? Oi Skeet, go and have a cold shower and stop thinking with your permanent boner.
#4 – Advancements in telecommunications WILL SAVE US ALL – but we’re still better off without
The unmitigated horror of a phone ringing in an empty house might be less terrifying if, say, you had another phone in your pocket. One which had a camera, and GPS, and the entire internet. The video link between the house and the van, approximately fifty metres down the drive, is painted as the height of technology. But its thirty second delay causes a lot of bloodshed for what, less than two decades later, would basically be Courteney Cox Skyping the crime scene.
An updated, social media savvy Scream remake would involve all the characters livetweeting through the horror. Maybe a cheeky Instagram of Rose McGowan’s bloody demise (#catflap). That plonker Randy wouldn’t have a video store in which to annoy the hell out of everyone, so I can only presume he’d write for Buzzfeed. Who are we kidding, he’d write for Best For Film.
It is also the worst idea anyone has ever had. Don’t even think about it, Hollywood.
#3 – Drew Barrymore wasted her acting career
Look up the phrase ‘peaked too soon’ and you should see a picture of Drew Barrymore. She gave us her greatest cinematic performance when she was seven, lost her teen years to Hollywood scandal and clawed back her onscreen persona with a handful of semi-decent romantic comedies. The opening scene of Scream is tonally perfect horror brilliance, and Barrymore’s hysterical performance is central to this. More recently, she’s been carving a nice new niche behind the camera, but I can’t help thinking the excellent little Gertie could have done so much more.
#2 – Post-modernism in horror pastiche died as soon as it was born
A lot of Scream’s power relies on the year it was released. The intentions of Hollywood’s pre-1996 horror canon were so straightforwardly serious that Scream’s in-jokes and nods to the audience’s awareness of the genre came across as truly fresh. The corpse-littered wasteland of the Scary Movies which followed have done their best to taint the memory of Wes Craven’s original, and you could arguably lump the sequels in there too. As a directorial stalwart of modern horror, Craven had a huge head start. He knows the signifiers, and the audience, like the back of his hand. In Scream, he’s riffing within his own genre. Consequently he achieved what many have since tried, and failed, to do – create a horror both self-referential and loaded with irony, and still come out with something genuinely unnerving. If Scream was the pinnacle of Drew Barrymore’s adult acting career, it was also a high point in genre pastiche, and one which stands up surprisingly well some seventeen years later.
#1 – Skeet Ulrich needs to wash his hair
I know it was the nineties and everything, and you were super busy attempting to stab Neve Campbell (in more ways than one), but come on dude, make an effort. You’re on camera.