Wayback Wednesday: Scream (1996)

Can we talk about Courteney Cox’s lime green power suit?

Recently I’ve come to appreciate and dare I say, actually enjoy watching, horror movies. I’ve always been a fan of anything scary and spooky, but it used to be that I would only watch horror movies that were so silly, you ended up laughing more than being scared. But ever since I watched Halloween (1978), which you can check out my review for here, I’ve had a great interest in checking out as many legitimate horror classics that I possibly can. Despite my fear of being slashed to pieces by some knife-wielding lunatic. So, for the first Wayback review of October I decided to continue my horror education with the cult classic, Scream (1996). Believe me, “scream” is exactly what I did at least three of four times during this movie.

Screen Shot 2019-09-29 at 9.03.01 PM
Credit: imdb.com / Dimension Films

Directed by horror icon Wes Craven, Scream follows Sidney Prescott, a teenager living in Woodsboro, California. Terror ensues when a mysterious costumed serial killer known as Ghostface begins targeting Sidney and her friends. Soon everyone in town becomes a suspect as Sidney tries not only to figure out who the killer is, but simply stay alive.

It was so bizarre taking this movie seriously only because I’ve seen Scary Movie (2000), which heavily parodies Scream, so many times. Whenever there was a suspenseful death scene or dramatic reveal I was like, “oh yeah, it’s just like that one joke in Scary Movie!” It was also bizarre to watch because of how much I associate the main cast with other roles. Courteney Cox, Matthew Lillard and Henry Winkler? All I see are Monica Geller, Shaggy and The Fonz running from a a deranged murderer. Oh, and speaking of famous faces, it took me far too long to clue in that Tatum was played by Rose McGowan. Or that Billy and Randy were played by Skeet Ulrich and Jamie Kennedy respectively. Really, Scream is packed with a plethora of stars who were either at the height of their popularity in the mid 90s or quickly rising to stardom. More than just a career-high for a number of its stars, Scream is a solid slasher movie that isn’t afraid to lampoon its source material, while at the same time providing plenty of thrills and chills.

I mean, look no further than the opening scene for thrills and chills. First of all, if I were home alone and I got that spine-tingling anonymous phone call, I would have instant diarrhea. The way Craven is able to build suspense, panic and fear from nothing but a ringing phone and a few brief lines is incredible. I was fully hooked and more importantly, fully spooked, watching Drew Barrymore play a frantic game of cat and mouse with her mysterious predator. More than once I unashamedly yelled at the screen, “call the police Drew!” Unfortunately, Drew isn’t the only one who makes silly decisions in Scream. But then again, what would a scary movie be if it didn’t feature a host of simple-minded teens making poor choices?

Neve Campbell, who stars as Sidney, plays the role of horror movie heroine fantastically. Though she occasionally falls victims to the aforementioned poor choices, Sidney is a resilient and strong heroine that I’d put on the same level as Laurie Strode. The way she’s focused on solving the mystery behind the murders, staying alive and generally kicking ass is so much fun to watch. That punch she gives Gail? Jaw-dropping. Gail Weathers, played impeccably by Courteney Cox, kicks just as much ass and takes just as many names as Sidney does. Really, one of the things I love about horror movies is how they feature strong women who are the true heroes of the story. Scream is no exception. Listen, it takes a strong woman to rock that lime green power suit of Gail’s and she does so masterfully. Seriously, I’m OBSESSED with it. It’s so 90s, so  “yes, I AM THAT BITCH, ” and so my Halloween costume this year. Should I talk more about the power suit? No? Move on? Ugh, fine.

Okay, so yes this is a movie about a knife-wielding serial killer who stalks unknowing teens at all hours of the day, but you know what the truly creepiest part of Scream is? Matthew Lillard. As Stu, he initially plays the idiotic teen comedy relief so well that it instantly made me want to check out more of his comedic roles. Then he becomes increasingly creepier and does the absolute most and I wasn’t mad at it. At all. I repeat, Matthew Lillard is spooky as hell and I loved every minute of it. Lillard, much like the movie itself, is at times bonkers and chaotic, but I think the confusion is part of the fun of this cult classic. Sure, you may ask yourself, “wait, what the hell is going on?” but then you either laugh or jump out of fear so it’s all good. By the way, real quick, I know this is random, but how is it that every character in this movie inexplicably lives in a mansion? Okay, maybe “mansion” is a strong term, but none of these houses would be out of place in the Hamptons.

Scream is a genre-bending movie. At first glance it’s a by the book slasher movie and in many ways, it is. But Scream goes above and beyond because it wisely uses the camp and cheese that is inherently found in scary movies to add an air of fun to this bloodbath of a horror. It’s silly and aware of how it’s poking fun at the genre, but somehow is still able to fill viewers with terror and dread. The finale in particular is suspenseful and realistic, amping up the natural fear we all have of what lurks in the shadows. Straightforward, legit scary and intriguing as hell, I can’t tell you how hard I worked to figure out who the killer was. The mystery is a great whodunnit and I genuinely switched my theory about who was behind it all multiple times.

The next time I have a sleepover, which at 23 I’m certainly not opposed to doing, I would strongly recommend that Scream be the feature entertainment. I mean, in a double screening with Mean Girls (2004) obviously. It’s the type of fun, frightening fear-fest that is best enjoyed with popcorn and good friends. I’ll say this, for the first time in a long time, this is a franchise-starting movie that I will definitely check out the sequels to. Who knows, maybe when I review Scream 2 (1997) next year I’ll actually get around to talking about David Arquette. Look, he’s perfectly fine but there were just more pressing things I had to talk about. Hello, COURTENEY COX’S LIME GREEN POWER SUIT. I can’t explain how in love I am.

Are you a fan of the Scream (1996 – 2011) series? Which one is you favourite?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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