Reinventing an Abandoned Genre: An Analysis of “Scream”

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I cannot think of another name in American horror that has the stature of the late, great Wes Craven. Craven, who sadly passed in 2015, is a name that many of you are likely aware of, perhaps subconsciously, even if you don’t necessarily recognize it in passing. To refresh the memories of those who are scratching their heads at my previous statement, Craven was responsible for some of the greatest and most well-known horror films and franchises ever made, including 80s mega-hit A Nightmare on Elm Street (that’s Freddy, for the less informed), his 70s midnight movie darlings The Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes, as well as some more obscure hits you may recognize like the Rachel McAdams-led and highly underrated Red Eye and, well, whatever the hell The People Under the Stairs is (has anyone seen that movie, by the way? It’s weird).

But I digress.

What I’ve written about here is what may be Craven’s ultimate masterpiece in my eyes, the 1996 phenomenon that is Scream. Scream is a film that single-handedly rewrote the canon of the slasher film. Scream satirized the many clichés that had made the subgenre as popular as it was in the 80s, while also bringing it forward into uncharted, postmodern territory, ultimately becoming the most successful slasher flick ever at the box office and paving the way for a resurgence in the genre in the following decade. This is where we would see eventually the releases of imitators such as Final Destination, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and yes, even Scary Movie.

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What Are You Watching?: “Scream”

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Scream (2015, MTV)

With the recent tragic loss of horror movie icon, Wes Craven, I feel that I have to pay homage to the man who got me so hooked on the thrill of the horror flick. What made Craven’s films so superb was the way the narratives were always laced with ingenious plot points and sharp dialogue that not only exposed the true nature of numerous horror tropes, but also followed these conventions and allowed for the film to hold humor. Primarily, I am speaking of the first horror movie I ever saw – 1996’s Scream.

Scream was the film that chronicled Sidney Prescott as she made her way through high school in the sleepy little town of Woodsboro. Sidney’s mother had passed away and following that Sidney began receiving mysterious calls that before her mother passed, her mother had an affair and that is part of the reason she was gone. The anonymous calls are coming from horror icon, Ghostface. The Ghostface killer is most interesting because as the movie series moved forward, there was not only a new face but a new motive underneath the mask and it was up to Sidney, the survivor, to figure out who it was. Otherwise, she’d die.

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