SCREAM. 1996. DIRECTED BY WES CRAVEN. STARRING DREW BARRYMORE, NEVE CAMPBELL, COURTNEY COX, DAVID ARQUETTE, MATTHEW LILLARD, ROSE MCGOWAN, LIEV SCHREIBER AND SKEET ULRICH. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
On the one hand, this film struck me as being one of the daftest, most unbelievable couple of hours ever to be committed to celluloid. On the other hand, however, it references about a dozen iconic movies in the horror canon, from PSYCHO and THE EXORCIST to NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and HALLOWEEN, so I guess it’s all good.
A serial killer known as Ghostface is cutting a bit of a bloody swathe through the teens of Woodsboro, a small(ish) fictional American town that looks a lot like the town in NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, which is not surprising seeing as both films were directed by Wes Craven. Pretty blonde Casey, played by Drew Barrymore, and her boyfriend Steve are the first to be bumped off by the instantly recognisable guy in the black robe and the scary mask. A rampage through Casey’s house leaves the poor teenager strung up on a tree in the back yard and her boyfriend tied to a chair, dead as a doornail.
The killer, who’s a bit of a bungler and is not immune from being kicked in the crotch and whacked in the face with things, thereby rendering him about as scary as hot buttered toast, then concentrates his attentions on Sid, played by Neve Campbell. (What? He’s a total klutz, this guy. You don’t see Michael Myers from HALLOWEEN falling on his ass every five minutes, do you? That guy’s got more class and style in his little finger than Ghostface has got in his whole body. There, I’ve said it. Judge me harshly if you want.)
Sid has a complicated back-story. Her mom was raped and murdered a year ago by an unknown assailant. A chap called Cotton Weary (God-awful name) was put away for the crime but some people don’t believe in his guilt. People like pushy news reporter Gale Weathers, for example, who’s mad-keen to break into the big-time and thinks she can do it with this story of the slaughtered teens.
Along the way, incidentally, Gale, played by FRIENDS actress Courtney Cox, manages to fall in love- or at least lust- with her husband in real life, David Arquette. He plays Deputy Sheriff Dewey, who’s not the sharpest tool in the box but he does get the girl in the end, so there you go.
There’s not much more to say about the film, really. The teens of Woodsboro hold a big house party at which Sid’s best friend Tatum encounters the killer and dies an interesting death in the garage door. Sid has sex for the first time- naughty Sid!- with her super-hot boyfriend Billy Loomis, played by Skeet Ulrich. (Loomis, geddit…???) Unfortunately for Sid, Billy is revealed to be the killer shortly after her deflowering. Don’t you just hate that? You give your most precious possession to a guy, and then he tries to kill you just because your mom was the reason that his Dad left his mom.
Yep, it seems that Billy-boy was the unknown assailant responsible for the death of Sid’s mother. He doesn’t get away with his dastardly deed, however. He gets shot by Gale Weathers- don’t ask- and that, thank God, is the end of that chapter. Sid’s okay, her dad’s okay, all’s well that ends well, etcetera.
I loved the clips from HALLOWEEN and the scene where one of the teens is talking us through how not to get killed in a horror movie. I enjoyed seeing ‘Fred’ the janitor cleaning the school in his battered hat and stripy jumper (remind you of anyone?), and also clocking the frequent references to famous horror movies. The final scenes were a bit of a laugh too, I suppose. Not entirely a dead loss so, you could say. I probably won’t watch it again, though. Once was enough.
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal.
She is addicted to buying books and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia, and would be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at: