Tuesday, November 10, 2009

10 Minutes of Terror - Scream

Aaaand Its BACK.

I recently saw Scream again on cable and I felt it REALLY needed to be included in 10 Minutes of Terror. I stayed away from Scream for a while considering the sequels were eh and its been so copied and over done that I got sick of it. Watching it again after keeping away for so many years made me realize that this film is really damn good. I remembered how much I liked it when I first saw it.

Granted, Scream has now become extremely cliche like just about any horror franchise (Nightmare, Friday the 13th, Saw, etc. etc.) But believe me when I say that when the movie came out, it was fresh and fantastic. Back in the oh so cynical 90's (ah, my generation!) the whole slasher in the woods scenario was tired out after countless sequels. The whole rise of the sexy "intellectual" thriller chiller genre was at its peak and was becoming REALLY over done (if I see Sharon Stone's ass ONE more time...). So when Scream came along my friends and I let out a collective "Hooray!" at the arrival.
Okay yeah, the concept of Scream wasn't what you'd call different but the execution of the film was. Here we had a horror film where the characters were smart and savvy about their situation. To me, this made the movie even more frightening. Even equipped with the knowledge of horror film lore these kids were still getting picked off one by one by one. Would us die hards stand a chance?...well...probably against Skeet Ulrich yes but thats not really the point I'm making. It was a slasher film made for a generation who grew up on slasher films.

And while it is now the most cliche part of all in the film, the opening sequence is still a pitch perfect delivery of a teenager in terror. Wes Craven created a masterwork scene of slasher heaven!

Here's the scene. Not embeddable though. DOH!

Go watch.
I shall wait here and enjoy my cookie.
Done? Okay. On we go.

When I first experienced this opening scene I was scared out of my gourd. I was scared enough to chew on my own knee. THAT is scared, people! To have a wet spot on one's knee from your own mouth is to know fear.
But lets take a closer look at the scene shall we?
Keep in mind this movie was made during the rise of the cellphone. Having a killer stalk someone using a cellphone was completely unheard of due to the fact that...well...there were no cell phones before then. Using this unexplored technology at the time was not only unique but added an extra note of terror. Something used for convenience could also be used to conveniently dispose of you. Many films after that has used this device since. Also, notice how the loudest sound during this scene is the phone ringing. The ringing goes from mundane to almost an alarm, jolting you every time the killer calls back. We also have a subtle use of color going on here. Our victim is in white or light tones with light blond hair painting us a picture of innocence. Meanwhile she is being stalked by a hooded figure all in black. Its costuming 101 but it works.

But I think what I loved so much was the use of setting for this scene. Putting lil Drew in a house that was mostly windows was a great idea. I'm a pretty paranoid woman. I tend to put shades on all my windows for fear that some lazy eyes psycho is going to be peering in on me while I watch TV. So before anything happened in this scene I was already paranoid. Windows EVERYWHERE and not a shade pulled down over one of them. One can't help but feel watched with all those windows looking out into the darkness. A good sturdy chair can break your barier and you are knife fodder.

Trust me when I say that this movie was something special when it came out. Was it the best horror film ever? Not compared to some. But it is extremely well made, it jump started the genre back into the mainstream, and its just plain fun to watch. Despite the cliches it harbors now, it really is worth checking out again.


Stac said...

You know, I haven't seen this in forever. I remember being SO disappointed by the first sequel that I didn't want to bother with it.

I should watch it again; now I'm curious.

Cins said...

Stac>>I felt the same way. I was pretty disappointed in the sequels and it became so parodied that I got bored with it. But I haven't watched Scream in..what..6 years or so? And I was reminded how much fun the original was.

Bevin said...

I haven't seen this movie in a very long time, but I remember being struck by the fact that at the time, Drew Barrymore was by far the biggest name in the film, and they set her up to possibly seem like the heroine at first, only to have her die in the opening sequence. Pretty shrewd tactic that I'm surprised (and somewhat glad) that more movies don't use. The only other one that springs to mind immediately is "Psycho".