Scream came at a very important time in cinema. It upended a stagnant and dead genre of slasher film that had unintentionally become a parody of itself. The progression of the greats moved from the serious to the silly and Wes Craven did his damnedest to condemn the lazy film makers who had failed the genre while also scaring and educating an entirely new generation of movie goers. Scream was satire but it was also terrifying. It broke down all the genre rules of horror films film by film and adhered to them like a bible. It was self aware and funny.
As a TV series Scream needs to get all the things the movie did right while also justifying it’s episodic nature, something the slasher genre has never adapted to. In a scene that mirrors the film class debate about sequels from Scream 2, we have our cast of students talking about how horror, specifically the gothic drama has taken over television with the likes of The Walking Dead, Bates Motel, Hannibal and more.
Scream also takes it’s time to distance itself from it’s theatrical counterpart by assuring you that this isn’t a sequel or even a retelling of the original, this is it’s own unique story that’s a commentary on horror based TV today.
Scream takes a few queues from the films like the series first murder which is meant to harken back to the original Drew Barrymore death which opened the first film. Then things go wildly different. And it’s also where the show seems to lose me…
The pilot centers largely around introducing us to a whole new set of teens in new town. Cliques are set in, there’s a definite pecking order and by the tenuous connections between everyone it’s clear that anyone could be a killer and everyone has secrets. But for some reason the largest plot device is a viral video of a young girl, Audrey making out with another girl and how that shocks the entire community. Everyone seems to look at Audrey as if she’s a freak and the guys seem to think this means she’s going to make out with anyone she sees.
I understand this is high school and they’re trying to establish that many of the men in this show are unintelligent, jock douche bags, but the fact remains that this is about as non-progressive as you can be with this subject matter while also trying to be titillating. The idea that everyone would be shocked that the nerdy girl with the butch hair cut might be into girls shouldn’t be shocking at all.
What I’m most worried about is how the show plans on leveling it’s suspicions on characters against Audrey simply because she is bisexual. MTV is usually a rather progressive network when it comes to putting a spotlight on gay rights and media but this show couldn’t be whiter and straighter if it tried.
The distinct lack of color in the cast is also a huge problem. As the cast is currently listed on IMDB it appears as though there’s one asian girl who’s a side character and two black men who are both police officers and are in one or two episodes a piece and obviously not anywhere in the main character’s circle. This is a problem I’d level against the original Scream as well who’s only characters of color were murdered in the opening of one of the films and had no connection to the main characters at all.
But aside from all that, Scream has some great production values, a fantastic opening kill, a perfect amount of gore for it’s audience and the fact it’s on commercial TV. But there are some pacing problems, a huge issue with a new mythology the show decides to shoe-horn in suddenly and then you start to wonder what makes this “Scream”? There’s a mask, there’s a mirrored murder from the films, and there’s social commentary and commentary on the genre in general, but is that enough? We’ll have to wait and see.
I had zero interest in this series to start with but one of my favorite directors, Ti West is going to be directing some later season episodes which is honestly enough to make me continue my viewing. He’s a modern master of horror with several great films under his belt.
7.5 out of 10