Ah Scream. Wes Craven’s revival of the teen slasher movies that made the late 70s and 80s what they were in horror. It is widely considered to be one of the greatest slasher films in recent times and has one of the most iconic serials killers since Hannibal Lector. But can we really consider it that much of a classic considering that is riddled with studio gimmicks, teen stereotypes and some uninspired scares? Perhaps it was Craven’s intention to show off some of the stereotypes and cliché scares because this is a parody after all… but the film still reeks of studio influence and control and I will briefly elaborate on this.
What I specifically mean by studio influence is that Scream feels very glossy and over the top at times. Hell, even Nightmare on Elm Street did the same thing but at least that was actually original. Everything up until the end of Scream was very cliché. The end makes up for it but still. A good example of this is Marco Beltrami’s score. It’s so overcomplicated as it uses bells, whistles and over-the-top strings. Even during some of the exposition scenes, the score makes you on edge when nothing is happening. During the scare scenes, it’s the score that does the work rather than the sound effects. It’s a great example of over the top studio cheese.
Another great example of this studio influence is over the top killer. In most indie horror flicks the killer uses a specialized weapon to match his or her theme, however in studio made movies the killer goes above and beyond to create elaborate kills (see the Saw franchise). Here, Ghostface is actually two people that set up the fact that the killer can be everywhere. These killers also utilized a very elaborate plan to frame somebody and they even use a voice distorter. It’s one of those moments where you lean back in your chair and say, “okay, this is getting a tad ridiculous.”
That’s the biggest gripe I have about Scream is that it’s way too over the top. If you look closely you’ll notice other things like the flashy camera/lighting work, the glossy depiction of high school and unlikable characters. You can tell this is a Wes Craven flick just by looking at the visuals.