Scream… a TV show about a classic 90’s slasher movie… to say I was on the fence is an understatement. I remember seeing the trailer and being excited and then my excitement fizzled away when I remembered how these sorts of shows really like to stick to the cliché of high school hierarchy with precocious kids ending up being smarter than the police.
I’m not saying that’s not how it is in this show but I am saying I was pleasantly surprised. To be fair to the writers you can’t write a teen series without sticking to the confines of the typical student body; people like familiarity. Like the confines of the horror genre; you have to know the rules so you can pervert them to you whim. I appreciate that, I do. In fact I even appreciated the moment one of the uber-smart techy geek kids likened their group-of-prey to the breakfast club because YES! What a way to make light of the masks they wear.
Speaking of masks (smooth, Sam, smooth), the new mask is… odd. The original was based on the Scream painting by Edvard Munch; when I was a teen those masks not only sparked a halloween trend but a million little pop culture references that spread into tv adverts, spoof films and tv show reference fodder. It also culturally educated the masses who may have never even heard of the painting until that moment… Kevin Williamson’s vision was perfection. The new mask has been created to cover the new show’s own mythology which, whilst great, doesn’t hold the same appeal to me but that’s not to say I didn’t like the show.
Let’s get into it.
If you aren’t a product of 90’s teen life you may not have seen the original Scream, I’m going to put it out there because I know some people don’t watch back catalogues. For those of you who may not know; the original Scream movie (from 1996) followed Sidney Prescott (a name I didn’t even have to Google, that’s how well I know it!), a girl who’s mother was killed by a maniac. It’s a year on and she starts to receive weird phone calls and then (dramatic build of music…) she’s attacked… And her boyfriend appears immediately after sparking accusations and mistrust of everyone! The plot then unfolds as a cat and mouse tale where you’re not really sure who the damn cat is… and then when you think you have it by its whiskers you realise you’re holding onto a mouse wearing cat ears with it’s mouth taped shut and eyes bulging at the person behind you holding a knife.
Sure that’s not a very detailed explanation but the joy of watching Scream is the unfolding of events so I ain’t gonna spoil it. I feel like it’s necessary to brief it, though, so I can talk about this new, amped up, MTV version.
The new premise is this; a young girl called Emma is targeted by a cyber-bully type criminal mastermind who kills her friend, records it, and then broadcasts it.
The remainder of the season follows Emma as she is continuously passively attacked; meaning her friends are getting hurt in her place. This is the part of the show I wasn’t too crazy about because unless the killer is trained in martial arts there is no way none of Emma’s friends wouldn’t get a hit in; but none of them do. No one is able to beat back the almost God like killer who is able to hack into everyone’s mobile devices whilst never being caught by the police or the other hacking professionals on the student body. Side note of worth; the FBI should have been crawling all over the town but there is a distinct lack of the navy blue jacket.
You may be thinking ‘wow, this sounds like Pretty Little Liars’ – we’re on the same page. The first two episodes had me cringing at the parallels. It was only made a little bit better by the know-it-all geeky sidekick making reference to the show but it didn’t dispel the fact that Scream, as a television concept, is basking in waters already warmed up by PLL’s glowing reception. Because PLL got there first; taking the genre, the high school horror concept and the female victims from all the slasher classics and banding them together against a faceless threat.
Don’t be put off. Whilst that’s true it doesn’t mean Scream has nothing to offer. What it lacks in timing [They are, what, six years too late to be riding the crest of the wave?] it makes up for in fast-paced action and story progression. Each episode offers a twist that, whilst not detouring from the genre staples, does what those staples are intended to do; keep you watching. Whilst I watched the show I think I pointed the fingers at almost every character. Perhaps it’s because I have seen the original movie so I had character expectations already in my mind or perhaps it’s because Pretty Little Liars already prepped my brain for the out of the blue double-cross? Whatever the reason I really enjoyed every turn and every red herring. I enjoyed the eventual unmasking of the killer, though I had guessed but only at the start of the season finale.
All in all I found the story new enough [because it does differ a lot from the original movie] to consider it entertaining and I enjoyed how the writers built up the expected character profiles only to use those expectations to keep me on my toes. Despite the fact there are a few unanswered questions at the end I would say the show is fun! These kinds of series are my bread and butter so I’m hoping for a season 2 because, you know, “they always come back”… I’ll leave you with that.
ps. I know I’m on the review train at the moment. There’s nothing nefarious about it, I just enjoy writing about what I like/ don’t like. Trust me when I say I have a big list of other blog posts on the way!