If a person was to ask me what my least favorite genre is, my answer will never change, horror. Until recently, that is. Despite naturally avoiding the genre in general, as a film critic I do believe it is wrong to put aside any genre entirely. However, other than Alfred Hitchcock, if you even really consider some of his films horror, I have just never been able to connect with horror films. Granted, there are plenty of the "greatest" ones that I have never seen, but movies like "Halloween" have been a disappointment to me. Though much to my surprise, Scream might be one of the best horror films I have ever seen, and I would easily take it over "Halloween" any day of the week. Re-defining a genre by mixing together both thrills and comedy, I laughed more in this film than I do in almost every comedy these days. Needless to say, Scream, while not even close to perfection, has been a very nice surprise for me this Halloween.
The movie begins with a teenage girl sitting home alone (figures) when she gets an odd phone call from a man. At first the man seems to be harmless and nice, but after she confirms that he has the wrong number, he calls back. This sparks up a game, the man asks her a question and she answers, which most of them involve key parts to previously successful horror films. But things start to get ugly for the girl when she answers one simple question wrong, "who is the masked murderer in the original Friday the 13th?". But I mean, come on, does anyone get that question right in today's time? After this the phone conversation continues to where everyone already knows it is going, and a man dressed up in some form of a creepy ghost outfit brutally murders both the girl and her boyfriend. Big surprise, I know.
The next day at the local school, some of the kids are making fun of the two deaths with cruel jokes, and others feel bad for what happened. But one girl in particular named Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is extremely disturbed by the recent murders, due to her mother being killed nearly a year ago. Unfortunately, she is now going to be staying home alone for awhile, and that night she receives similar phone calls with a man quizzing her on horror movies. At first she believes the man behind the phone is her boyfriend, Billy (Skeet Ulrich) and tries to call his bluff, but after discovering that it is not her boyfriend after all, she is attacked, and it is not until Billy shows up with a cellular phone that the murderer leaves. He then becomes the number one suspect, and as murders continue to pop up, Sidney is going to need all the help she can get to survive this Halloween rampage.
Unlike many of today's big movie buffs, I am absolutely not going to pretend that Scream is a horrifyingly scary film that makes you jump out of your seat all throughout it. While not nearly as good, this year's "Insidious" is far more scary, make no mistake about it. Scream is more of a thriller then a horror, it isn't frightening because it is filled with what would today be called B-movie cliches, and no one wants that in a film. There is good news though, Scream recovers from its flaws with its intelligence, and that is something no horror film can live without.
Compared to other horror films where the target will run and run and run, yet the killer casually walks and still keeps up, the murderer in Scream actually feels to the viewer like a real person, and that is one thing that I loved about this movie. The idea in itself might not have been very realistic, but the way the murderer works around his kills is, which to me works just as well as a realistic storyline in the first place.
Now, I have said this before, but as a critic when reviewing horror films, acting tends to have to be thrown out the door entirely. In fact, I would say if I am being fair a lot of the time the acting is scarier then the movie. Luckily, that is not the case here, the acting may not be great, but it in no way takes away from the film. I don't think it's necessary to call out any performance in particular, as they were all right about average, but just know it won't be your typical horror acting.
Kevin Willamson's screenplay was at times a bit cheesy for my taste, but the fact that he wrote this horror/comedy impressive me to no end! Yes, improvements definitely could have been made, and I am not sure exactly who came up with the idea of this film first, but Williamson gets the credit for the screenplay, and along with Craven's excellent direction bringing the film together, they were an unstoppable team here.
Overall, Scream is an excellent film, and that is coming from an undeniably biased and skeptical mind. Was it perfect like so many people think and say? No, of course not. But Scream is one of a handful of horror flicks that deserve the honor of a yearly viewing.
Note: At this time I am unable to give a rating to this film, it will probably be between 3 and 3.5/4, but I must first think about it longer.