Why “Scream” still makes us scream
From “Halloween” to “Friday the Thirteenth,” people often remember their favorite slashers by a distinguishable killer in a mask chasing innocent teenagers through their small towns. One of the most well-recognized classics is “Scream.” Regardless of whether or not they’ve seen the movie, anyone can recognize the “Scream” killer’s mask, Ghostface, as a symbol of an iconic and well-renowned horror film. “Scream,” which premiered in 1996, was released after a slew of extremely popular horror films. Still, it managed to stand out through self-referential comedy and mystery.
The introductory scene sets the tone of the movie as comical, yet scary nonetheless. “Scream” begins with the murder of a young teenager, Casey, who’s seemingly home alone making popcorn. The first scene shows Casey picking up the phone and hearing a mysterious male voice, who is soon revealed to be the movie’s antagonist. The call starts off innocently, with the voice asking if Casey likes scary movies, a self-referential joke used throughout the movie. The two discuss various films, such as “Halloween,” before the call begins to sour. As their talk grows more intense, tensions rise before the scene culminates in Casey running from the killer until she is caught and stabbed.
Casey’s death sets up the remainder of the plot, which centers on Sydney and her friends. These friends then try to escape Casey’s killer. Throughout the film, Sydney is threatened by the killer over the phone as her friends are picked off one by one. The threats, combined with paranoia about who’s going to be killed next, forces the viewer to remain braced for bloodshed at any moment.
While this tension may not make the viewer scream out from jumpscares, it is still enjoyable to try and predict who’s next and can be scary at times. Similarly, the mystery of the killer’s identity makes the movie engaging because it leaves both the viewer and the characters theorizing who the killer is.
In conclusion, “Scream,” manages to stand out among other horror classics of the same time period through its comedy that adds to the horror rather than distracting from it, as well as its ability to make the viewer guess who the killer is, playing into the paranoia and panic the characters are feeling.
Overall, I rate “Scream” as a 9/10 for its humor and genuine tension. I would recommend watching this movie with friends or even alone due to its relative tameness, especially with Halloween coming up. π