Scream ★★★★½

Watch #5 of Hoop-Tober (2.0)

A rocket-boosted onslaught of horror film references that pokes fun at the tropes but concurrently utilizes them with fabulous vigour. It's a charming love-letter that will have any horror fan snickering at the shout-outs, but Scream is, most importantly, a very strong piece of individual filmmaking that transcends far beyond a mere gimmick. It definitely identifies as part-satire but beneath the spoofy exterior is another chilling addition to the more esteemed sections of the genre's oeuvre.

If anyone were to feel doubt regarding Wes Craven's ingenuity, the first film I would show them would be Scream. Because while A Nightmare on Elm Street redefined notions of safety and psychological horror, Scream more strikingly showcases Craven's versatility and shrewdness.

Here, Craven develops his environment like he usually would. A tight-knit town filled with colourful suspects, comradery juxtaposed with isolation etc; however this is where the versatility and shrewdness comes in. Craven and his writer Kevin Williamson realize that what once was novel from Craven is now a staple of the genre. Time's passed and people's sensibilities have changed. So what do they do? They take the original template and substantiate it. Pure Craven horror won't do as the sole crutch so elements of lampoonery and self-referential humour become part of the package.

But the key to why Scream remains so strong in solitude is because the inherent horror isn't devalued by the corresponding elements and doesn't rely on pop-culture knowledge to resonate. The comedy mostly does, but extract that and I still believe this to be a classic due to the gravitas present in the scares. I think this is why Scream rarely has "comedy" listed in the genre section - it still has that bite to it and there are many moments when comedy is absent and pure dread is residing. The atmosphere is always potent and foreboding even when characters are spouting references and goofy quips.

Scream reaches the overriding aspirations parody has - to have the material function as both satire and non-contrived plot-devices. There are many moments when the call-backs actually accentuate the horror and give characters believable motivations - that was the most incredible thing that struck me. And while its blatancy is too much at times and the score is forgettable, there's no denying this is a brilliant examination of a debate that has becomes more heated with every passing day - do horror films have the ability to adversely affect people's psyches? I suppose the question has been around as long as horror, but to see the topic still heavily present today gives Scream a timeless quality that makes it legendary.

And also, we have this movie to thank for gifting us the gorgeous modern (sort of) scream-queen Neve Campbell. So thank you, Scream. And thank you Wes for sharing your many gifts. R.I.P.

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