When Randy the video geek rattles off the rules of surviving a horror movie in Wes Craven's Scream, he speaks for a generation of filmgoers who are all too aware of slasher-movie clichés. Playfully scripted by Kevin Williamson with a self-aware wink and more than a few nods to its grandfathers (from Psycho to Halloween to the Friday the 13th dynasty), Scream skewers teen horror conventions with loving reverence while re-creating them in a modern, movie-savvy context. And so goes the series, which continues the satirical spoofing by tackling (what else?) sequels while... sustaining its own self-contained mythology. Catty reporter Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) turns grisly murders into lurid best-sellers, a cult of killer wannabes continues to hunt spunky psycho-survivor Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell) for their 15 minutes of fame, and a cheesy movie series (Stab) develops within the movie series.Scream remains the high point of the series--a fresh take on a genre long since collapsed into routine, but Scream 2 spoofs itself wittily ("Why would anyone want to do that? Sequels suck!" opines college film student Randy), and delights with more elaborate set-pieces and all-new rules for surviving a horror movie sequel. The endangered veterans of the original film reunite one last time for Scream 3, which plays out on the movie set of Stab 3 (it's a trilogy within a trilogy!). With Williamson gone, replacement screenwriter Ehran Kruger tries to mine the formula one more time. It's a little tired by now, and pale imitations (Urban Legend, I Know What You Did Last Summer) have further drained the zeitgeist, but the film bubbles with bright humour and director Craven is stylistically at the top of his game. As a trilogy, it remains both the most consistently entertaining and self-aware horror series ever made. --Sean Axmaker, Amazon.com [show more]
Revisit one of the most influential, though now visibly dated, post-modern slashers of all time: 'Scream' was a landmark in the genre; written by then newcomer Kevin Williamson, directed by horror movie magnate Wes Craven & starring a largely unknown cast of precocious young Americans. 'Scream' captivated audiences worldwide by embracing and subverting every horror movie cliché known to man, with its campus set, frat-house camaraderie, relentless knife wielding serial killer in an Edvard Munch mask, clever self-reflexivity, cine-literate quips, film references, suspense & gore; the movie was a hit, reviving Craven's directorial career whilst creating a new sub-genre in the process. With an excellent, unforgettable and wholly unexpected, opening sequence,'Scream' moves onto tell the story of traumatised teen Sidney Prescott (an on form Neve Campbell) and a labyrinthine, murderous plot that shakes the small-town of Woodsboro California to its' core. Enter power-suited tabloid hack Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox, riding the crest of her 'Friends' fame) and a whole host of local high-school kids, each one ascribing to an American archetype planted deep into the subconscious of every man, woman and child on Earth via the magic of globalisation. Neve Campbell does well over the three films; standouts include a Tarantino-esque performance by video store clerk / horror movie fan Randy (Jamie Kennedy), Rosie McGowan's ultra-violent demise, Matthew Lilliard's manic performance (an acting style he'd pursue in all his future films) and a subtle turn from Skeet Ulrich, who excels in a thankless and often awkward role. Williamson would go onto corner the 'Annoying American Teen' market with hit show 'Dawson's Creek', enjoyable body-snatchers homage 'The Faculty', satirical misfire 'Teaching Miss Tingle' and fun, snappily titled teen horror 'I Know What You Did Last Summer'.
'Scream 2' comes under that rare 'sequel-better-than-the-original' category, with yet another classic opening sequence; this time in a cinema at the premiere of 'Stab', an adaptation of Gale Weathers' book about the events of the first film. A copycat killer is on the loose in Windsor College and Sidney Prescott's (Neve Campbell, still good though her acts getting a bit old) facing the serrated edge of the masked murderer's blade once more. 'Scream 2' manages to tighten its grasp of irony, for now that the filmmakers know their audience is on the same page, it gives them a newfound confidence in balancing humour with horror. And though every film in this trilogy seems to unable to avoid the obvious come the end credits, this is still a thoroughly entertaining, well written, directed and acted horror. Look out for Laurie Metcalf, Jerry O' Connell's cringe-worthy 'Top Gun' homage, memorable cameos from Sarah Michelle Geller and Portia De Rossi, the return of old favourites David Arquette (overacting as usual) and Lev Schreiber not to mention a stealthy, realistic performance by the underrated Timothy Olyphant. 'Scream 3' struggles over the finish line in a staggering, spluttering finale which plays out like an afterthought, conceived to make up a trilogy and, of course, ironic, self-referential jokes about the nature of film trilogies . Relocating to Hollywood, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell, trying everyone's patience), still haunted by memories of the Woodsboro massacres and the blowback on Windsor campus, is provoked to come out of her 'WPP' when another copycat begins a quick killing spree on the set of 'Stab 3: Return To Woodsboro' (murdering actors in the order their characters die in the script). Not terrible by any stretch, but whilst 'Scream 3' does have its moments, a lot of scenes seem too familiar or gimmicky, and though the likes of Parker Posey, Patrick Dempsey, Jenny McCarthy et all make for on oddball cast; the scream is noticeably hoarse in a reasonably entertaining, albeit instantly forgettable, conclusion.
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