Scream (Wes Craven, 1996)
Scream is a 1996 American slasher film written by Kevin Williamson and directed by Wes Craven. The film stars Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Drew Barrymore, and David Arquette. It follows the character of Sidney Prescott (Campbell), a high school student in the fictional town of Woodsboro, who becomes the target of a mysterious killer known as Ghostface. Other main characters include Sidney's best friend Tatum Riley (Rose McGowan), Sidney's boyfriend Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich), film geek Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy), deputy sheriff Dewey Riley (Arquette), and news reporter Gale Weathers (Cox).
With a whodunit story of serial killer in an American small town, this brilliant homage to the slasher genre of the likes of Halloween, often cited and shown for most parts, and Friday the 13th was a popular film that is now regarded as a classic. The title evoking the culture of the scream queens of the slasher genre and links to the mask of the killer to the painting of Edvard Munch of the same name with the character looking directly at the viewer with a distorted face much like the Ghostface mask. It translates the fear and despair of the victims but more precisely with the opening scene of Scream. Which is almost a short film in itself and works perfectly just like the opening of Halloween.
Another aspect of Scream is how its characters are aware of the classics of the genre and openly discusses the motives and issues of those movies. They compare their reality to the operatic way horror films go and the logic of horror becomes their because they almost seem to know they are stars of a movie themselves. It could have distanced the viewer but instead, it involves the audience and makes it a part of the investigation and the guessing game of the whodunit.
With all that said, I must mention that I enjoyed Scream a lot because it is the kind of film that is made by film lovers for film lovers with its references and analysis of the genre. But there is more than that, the mystery and the ensemble cast are some of the most interesting aspects of Wes Craven’s major hit. Also, there’s a tone of dark humor and self-mockery of the genre and itself in the way that actors over play and how boldly Craven presses his notes like the phantom of the opera enjoying himself.