Scream ★★★★

Watched w/ Skye. Maybe my first time seeing it since 1996; maybe her first time too.

Every time someone fought back against Ghostface and knocked them down (always temporarily, alas), I experienced a kind of startle reflex even though I knew it was coming. Of all the ways Craven plays against expectations, I particularly love the touch of introducing a little fight choreography into the attacks; every time he raises our hopes, making us think that this killer is potentially stoppable, he squeezes the scenario for a little more suspense and a little more terror and a little slapstick humor to boot. I like the way Kevin Heyer put it: "The villain(s) get the utter shit whooped out of them by objects as innocuous as a door, at once highlighting how they're inept but disturbingly determined; a genuinely clever combo of horror and comedy."

I love Wes Craven for successfully inventing himself as a horror filmmaker (when that wasn't so much of a thing) and then reinventing himself with not one, but two movies that launched whole franchises. But Kevin Williamson's screenplay is also a marvel: full of choice lines and smart choices about when to drop red herrings to keep us guessing about who the killer is and revealing bits of backstory to keep us engaged and interested in Sydney. The match of Neve Campbell's acting chops and charisma and beauty and the character of Sidney Prescott (with Williamson giving her some emotionally twisty scenes to play) makes for best heroine Craven has ever put in front of the camera.

Also really appreciated Cynthia Bergstrom's costume design work, especially with Rose McGowan. There's a lot of talk about how women are objectified in slasher films, but maybe we could spare a minute to talk about how often women are objectified poorly. I love Scream for goosing the audience for its hope of seeing Campbell topless, and for otherwise deviating from the playbook... but I feel like the movie also honors the slasher tradition in presenting McGowan's Tatum, and does it with enthusiasm. When Tatum wears the cropped silver football shirt and the red pants, with the zebra print bag — I remember registering that look when I first saw the movie over 20 years ago.

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