Scream (1996)

Stabbings, gore and murders are all here, but how does Scream fit into the horror genre?

Scream follows Sidney who is the unfortunate focus of a serial killer in a suburban town. The killer, Ghostface, begins to kill off Sidney’s teenage friends while they start to use Horror genre expectations to understand what might happen next.

From the onset, Scream’s characters have a frank awareness of the horror genre. The opening scene uses a horror film quiz to decide whether people should live or die, a clever device which grips the audience into the scene. One of the side characters, Randy, even states three things never to do in a horror film: ‘You can never have sex,’ ‘You can never drink or do drugs’ and you ‘never ever, ever say: ‘I’ll be right back.’ The inclusion of these rules and the teenager’s obvious disregard of the situation are completely unique and create an air of disbelief and fun for the viewer, despite numerous gory deaths.

Ghostface is visible from the opening which avoids any supernatural or unnecessary build up of his character. In fact, the only mystery in Scream is who the killer could be and this is played out as a simple detective story, mostly in the daytime.

The detective in this case is Dewey, the most intriguing character, played by David Arquette. Arquette plays him as a shy, simple man – not your ordinary hero. He even gets undermined continuously by his teenage sister and this proves highly comical for the audience. What’s more, the villain, Ghostface, constantly falls over flat surfaces and makes the horrific chase scenes light hearted and accessible for a larger audience. This undermining of the villain shows that the film is not concerned with creating a traditional scary film.

Overall Scream is a great reinvention of the horror movie: it’s self aware, thrilling and funny too. It’s continual pushing of horror boundaries and audience expectations keep it entertaining at every turn.

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