Finn Herbert’s review published on Letterboxd:
“What’s your favorite scary movie?”
Scream. Scream is my favorite scary movie.
Wes Craven's magnum opus and the film that resurrected the slasher genre, Scream is an absolutely flawless meta blend of horror and comedy that outdoes the very films that it parodies, and one of my favorite films of all time.
The opening sequence is extremely effective in establishing the rules of the film that is about to follow, in that everybody is a suspect, no one is safe, and it is absolutely terrifying. Taking the ubiquitous fear of being home alone and having a sinister visitor, the film plays with our expectations, tormenting the audience until the last second when it crushes our hopes with a swift stab, ending 13 minutes of relentless cinema with a brutal, bleak outcome, only to cut straight to what feels like a generic teen 90s comedy, immediately establishing the ingenious contrast Scream employs.
Introducing our main cast of characters, each who are wholly entertaining and well acted, Sidney, the definitive final girl who beats the tropes and stands her own, Billy, the strangely attractive grungy boyfriend, Stu, the hilarious comic relief with some suspicious expertise, Tatum, the stereotypical blonde who seems like a predestined victim and Randy, the horror nerd who personifies the audience. Each character feels like they are a possible suspect, and the film takes this into account by constantly throwing us red herrings and dubious alibis.
Our final two main characters, Dewie the dopey but kind hearted police officer and Gale, the heartless reporter desperate for a story, also have their motives and suspicions for being the killer, and Scream keeps us guessing until the last minute. The film makes perfect use of every second, with each scene flawlessly crafted to create doubts, suspicions and alibis whilst also flowing with the carefully choreographed events to remove and semblance of a plot hole and thoroughly entertaining us as it does.
A perfect mix of horror and comedy, Scream parodies slasher films whilst also leaning into the formula in a way that transcends it whilst also following it, step-for-step, and with some hilarious moments contrasted with terrifying deaths and relentless chases, it never fails to entertain for a second.
Craven's true genius shows in how perfectly crafted the timeline is, and on a second watch noticing the subtle nuances and quirks within characters and scenes, and how they are precisely woven into the intricate plot. Ghostface is a great villain in that while he is a scary, formidable force, his humanity is shown in his clumsiness, failures and discomposure at times, and the subtle nuances between each person under the suit is seen in the way he moves and acts, as well as the fact that anyone could be wearing that mask.
Rooted in real life events, fears and plausibility whilst parodying horror films in a meta commentary, Scream plays into our expectations, suspicions and beliefs, and Craven speaks directly through the audience through the characters whilst telling an absolutely sublime story.
A timeless classic that defined and resurrected a genre, Wes Craven's Scream is a perfectly crafted, flawlessly executed piece of whodunnit horror/mystery/comedy meta cinema, and one of my all time favorite movies.