Daisoujou’s review published on Letterboxd:
Look, I don't try to be a contrarian. I don't want to be the bad guy! And I acknowledge Scream seems to have been a cultural phenomenon -- I was too young at the time to quite see it, but to my knowledge it reinvigorated the slasher genre and spawned a return, shaping how later slashers operated and how audiences viewed them. It also led to the Scary Movie series being created, and everything that came after that. But we can't hold that against it.
And nearly every single person I follow here loves it, with only a couple exceptions. So I don't want to flippantly chalk this up to "you had to have been there." I'm sure many of you weren't there. Nevertheless, this doesn't work for me at all. There's a fine (yes, subjective) line between being self-aware in an amusing way and just being obnoxious. Scream is that person whose entire identity is a single interest. "Hey you like slasher movies? Remember Halloween? Remember Prom Night? Remember Friday the 13th?" It just continues like that. I don't believe just acknowledging something is sufficient for a meta film (honestly I think words like satire or parody would be an overstatement). It's a movie that has characters damn near stare into the camera and recite a list of horror tropes while giving a big wink to all you out there in the audience who have seen those movies before. Whoa I feel so recognized. I'd be hard pressed to tell you it does anything at all with those tropes, though. At absolute best, it verbally acknowledges them to introduce a moment of playing "will they or won't they?!" with its own plot, hoping it'll be compelling for us to wonder if the virgin will live because usually the virgin lives. I'll be the first to tell you it has the benefit of coming later, but a film like Cabin in the Woods demonstrates how to take these base acknowledgements and actually DO something with them.
It manages to embody the worst part of those tropes, too. I don't believe this is intentional, because I am convinced that the filmmakers just loved horror and aimed to have some fun with it, but it's strangely conservative. The serious parts about the protagonist's mother feel genuinely anti-sex; her ultimate journey is learning to accept and get over the knowledge that her mother was a "slut." Even when she manages to start recovering from her post traumatic stress she does so by labeling herself selfish for having it, and that appears to be a triumph for the character.
More than anything though, my issue is just that I was in a constant state of irritation. At the core it stems from the incessant "psst... horror movies wink wink," but even the characters were just terribly unlikable. The script is deeply unnatural trying to throw out constant zingers and snappy dialog that felt forced. People (Matthew Lillard especially) act like manic cartoon children. It's deeply offputting.
At least the opening scene is fairly good, definitely the most memorable part of it all. I think the film could use more kills with build ups like that, rather than how most of the later kills are much more sudden. Just consider my tastes an outlier here; apparently I in no way match up with what most people find enjoyable, on this one.