Scream (18)

Directed by Wes Craven
Starring Neve Campbell, Drew Barrymore, Courtney Cox, Skeet Ulrich, David Arquette

Wes Craven's latest is another variation on his favourite horror theme, but as in New Nightmare, where he attempted to mix the Nightmare on Elm Street movies with real life, here Craven has again gone for something a bit different. This time, he has gone for parody of the genre itself. The teenagers in this film frequently refer to the schlock horror movies they have seen like Halloween, Friday the 13th etc. and the characters in them.
The film opens with the horror cliche of a pretty girl(Barrymore) home alone one evening, when a stranger rings. Initial friendly chat soon turns nasty, and the girl realizes she is in danger. A couple of gory and slashing killings later and its bye bye Drew and we switch to the main protagonists, namely Sydney(Campbell) her boyfriend Billy(Ulrich) and her pals at school. Sydney's mother was brutally raped and murdered a year ago, and after she narrowly escapes being the next victim, Billy is arrested as chief suspect. However, it later appears he is innocent. We also meet sleazy tabloid TV journalist Courtney Cox, bumbling deputy David Arquette, and school principal Henry Winkler. The movie builds to a climax as the kids have a party at the sort of big old house seen mainly in horror films. Lots of killings, bloody attacks and narrow escapes occur before the credits roll.
This is undeniably a scary film, but quite stylishly done. Lots of splatter, and the usual resourceful heroine a la Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween- who gets quite a lot of mentions here by the way. Neve Campbell is a strong lead, with support from a lot of young Hollywood trendies. Courtney Cox makes you forget her Friends past, and is very good as the ruthlessly bitchy journo.
I am not a big fan of horror films, and at times the supposed humour was so black as to be in very bad taste. You sometimes feel that the parody style is just a veneer for a standard slasher flick, but Wes Craven just about pulls off a sly and darkly witty nail biter. One more thing, Sydney lives in one of the most beautiful houses I've seen in movies for ages- wonder where it is? 6/10.

May 1997

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