During lunch at a recent library training event, somehow the topic of the SCREAM trilogy came up in a somewhat disparaging way. As always, I was the lone weirdo who halted the conversation to say, "But... I like the SCREAM series!" One of my colleagues backed me up on the first movie, but... only the first movie.. Okay, okay...
I don't believe in guilty pleasures, so anyone hoping I'm going to back down and admit that two and three sucked and I have bad taste for liking them is going to be more than a little disappointed. I try to avoid judging other people's tastes, even though I might not be perfect at it, and I hope that others will allow me the same courtesy in return. My theory is, looking down my nose at what someone else likes accomplishes nothing except possibly making that other person feel bad. I don't want to be responsible for that!
So let's address SCREAM.
I loved the first one, I've watched it probably at least 20 times. Many people will at least give that one credit for making some waves in the horror genre at the time that it came out. Plus, I'm a sucker for a good mystery. Obviously you lose that "whodunit" effect after the first viewing, but it had so much else going for it that warranted multiple viewings. That feeling, that reaction I had to the first film is what drives me to want to see the sequels when they come out.
SCREAM 2 has some of my favorite one-liners, and frankly... I have this nostalgic love of the soundtrack. I don't know what it is exactly, but maybe I can blame Less Than Jake. I also happen to think there are a ton of great actors playing secondary and minor characters, and I'm not just talking about Sarah Michelle Gellar (well remembered, if you read my last post about Buffy.) Liev Schreiber has a much bigger role in this film, you've got the opening with Jada Pinkett Smith and Omar Epps; Heather Graham, Tori Spelling and Luke Wilson playing parts in the movie-within-a-movie Stab; Elise Neal, Timothy Olyphant as Sidney's classmates, plus David Warner as her drama teacher; plus, well, Laurie Metcalf. Seriously, check out the cast list, you'll be surprised who pops up.
Okay, so SCREAM 3. I don't think it gets enough credit, although I admit it lost it's way a bit. The whole Hollywood setting is interesting in a sort of L.A. Noir way, but sometimes more annoying than anything (maybe my Midwestern is showing.) I think the main problem is that Kevin Williamson didn't write this one. Plus, there's a hell of a lot going on all at once. However! Parker Posey is amazing. Patrick Dempsey does an awesome, if occasionally over-the-top, job as Detective Kincaid. The cameos by Heather Matarazzo, Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith are fun, though not essential. I LOVED Carrie Fisher. There's a fantastic scene where Sidney dreams about her mother that scares the shit out of me to this day (I have a thing, about faces at a window.) The twist at the end is kind of cool, but they did go overboard with Sidney and the killer screaming at each other. It set a terrible precedent for SCREAM 4.
The fourth film... is not... like... the others. And it actually was written by Williamson. Have I already watched it multiple times? Yes. There are still some really cool actors in here, like Mary McDonnell, Rory Culkin, and Hayden Panettiere. Kristen Bell and Anna Paquin have a cameo in the beginning, which would have been awesome had it not tried to out-meta the entire series. The core group of Sidney, Gale and Dewey are there, but not as vibrant as past movies. I think it was the ending and the rationale for the killings that really lost me, though. All of the screaming and awkward over-emphasis on swearing (I don't give a flying fuck about cursing, I do care about poor acting. It wasn't convincing, it was cringe-worthy.) I really would have preferred the low-key approach in this case.
In the end, I think SCREAM had its season (the 90's), had a big impact on the genre, and it probably should be left to exist in that decade alone. Would I still see any sequel they put out? You're goddamn right I would. As I said, I am perpetually seeking out that feeling the first film gave me. If there's a chance, even a small one, that they can capture it again, I'll be right there.
Scream - Scream 2 - Scream 3 - Scream 4 via IMDB.com
Scream (83%) - 2 (81%) - 3 (36%) - 4 (58%) via RottenTomatoes.com