Scream ★★★


Hadn’t seen this in easily ten years, probably more, and had zero recollection of how self-commentative and reflexive it is. It’s a pastiche of campy slashers wherein the victims themselves are cognizant that their situation dramatically resembles a campy slasher, thereby heightening the horror itself when each incarnation of evil is initially downplayed as someone merely playing a prank or acting like an ass before becoming suddenly, terrifying real. It’s a clandestine osmosis across the fourth wall without physically breaking it, which in many ways is brilliant. Self-awareness only goes so far, though, and despite this slasher-within-a-slasher conceit, the film still needs to function (at least partially) as “its own” slasher, at which point I begin questioning how much of Craven’s cornball setups, lines, and executions are intentionally hackneyed vs. legitimately bad attempts at horror. Even if you want to argue that its entirely the former, the winking starts to cloy at some point beyond which no amount of genre poke-funnery can fully vindicate. (Unfortunately, that point occurs earlier than I’d hope or like to admit.) There are only so many times I’ll accept a knife-wielding mass murderer to stall and trip and whiff at his or her helpless victims - in severely confined spaces, no less - before becoming frustrated at the belief I’m expected to suspend, or, if you still assume the 100% campy route, the repetitive silliness I’m supposed to endure. Matthew Lillard annoys the ever-loving shit outta me, but Jamie Kennedy is surprisingly good. I don’t outright love it, but I respect its ability to dual function as a tongue-in-cheek horror throwback for cineastes and a raunchy summer slasher for people who don’t waste hours ranking director filmographies.

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