This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
bree1981’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Am not going to spoiler tag this review but if you haven't seen this film, which unbelievably is coming up for 20 years old, then you should go out and remedy that before reading any further. This probably won't be any sort of structured review and more a collection of jumbled thoughts so apologies in advance.
Scream has become a hugely iconic film with everything from the ringing phone to the macabre, Edvard Munch based Ghostface mask to Roger L. Jackson's voice behind the phone calls and the endlessly quotable dialogue becoming ingrained in popular culture. I don't think any film in the last 20 years has been spoofed or copied as much as Scream has and for me, this should go down as Craven's true masterpiece.
I remember watching this on VHS for the first time around the Autumn of 97 and being completely shocked when Drew Barrymore's character (who outside of Friends star Courteney Cox was the most recognisable face in the film) was unceremoniously killed of in the opening scene and what a brutal kill it is, stabbed in the heart just as her parents get home and left with enough strength to make that one, heartbreaking final phone call as she bleeds out. Straightaway we see how evil the masked killer is and we are immediately invested in the film.
I've also always enjoyed the fact that the killer isn't some unstoppable Michael Myers/Jason Voorhees type, it's just an evil fucker in a mask, he can be clumsy at times and takes a bit of a beating throughout the film. The film also loose's it's whodunnit aspect after you've seen it but who can forget seeing the ingenious reveal for the first time.
The main cast apart from Cox were all fairly unknown to me at the time but this film launched them all into stardom and they are all perfect in their roles, Campbell is the obvious star of the show, a take no shit final girl for a new generation, she call's the killers bluff on multiple occasions and isn't afraid of going to the jugular when cornered. The supporting cast is also full of now iconic characters, Matt Lillard's energetic performance as the obnoxious Stu has always been a favourite of mine but all the cast get their moment to shine, best friend Tatum has some great one liners ("I'll send you a copy. Bam! Bitch goes down.), the growing attraction between complete opposites Gale and Dewey is always fun to watch with Dewey just being a great character in general, he's always doing something interesting, even when just out of camera focus. Then you have creepy boyfriend Billy(don't know what Sid was thinking there), who was always my chief suspect until he 'dies' and who can forget video store geek Randy who put's the meta into the film before meta was cool.
Then we come to the last act, from the party onwards it's just fantastic story telling, full of suspense and with countless great little moments, Tatum's death scene, the gang all watching Halloween as Randy explains the rule's of a horror movie, everything involving the delay camera which brilliantly builds tension and is paid-off with Kenny's death and of course Billy's red herring death scene. It all leads to the survivors being left in the house with the killer and the last 15 minutes are full of twists and turns leading to that magnificent final reveal. Then there's the epic stab wounds Billy and Stu inflict on each other, Stu slowly bleeding out while Billy just get's madder and madder (Ow! You fuckin' hit me with the phone, Dick!).
It's the perfect climax to, what to me is the perfect movie, it's thrilling, full of humour, excellent performances, has a cracking soundtrack, Wes Craven is at the absolute top of his game shooting from interesting angles and expertly crafting tension while Kevin Williamson's script is completely on the button and reinvents the genre. I'll stop rambling on now but no-one should have any reason not to see this film.