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What's your favourite scary movie?




There are two types of people in the world: those who read this blog title and thought I was genuinely asking what their favourite scary movie is and those who knew this blog would be about the Scream franchise. If you're the latter: can we be friends, please? I have friends I can speak incessantly to about Batman, but no one I can chat Scream theories to.  

In all honestly though, sometimes people try to argue when I say Scream is one of my favourite franchises of all time. 

It's the same argument: "the first one was great, but the 2nd and 3rd ones were okay and they really shouldn't have bothered with the 4th". We're all entitled to our opinions, but for me all the Scream films were brilliant and have went down in history as some of my personal favourites (in fact, my favourite Scream film is the third one - so suck on that!). 

As you will (hopefully) know by now (and probably do know if you follow me on Twitter) is that Scream has recently been made into a TV series by MTV. I was cynical when it was first announced - because even though I loved the films, there have been other franchises I've loved that really should have bowed out gracefully (Sex and the City - are you listening? Sabrina, also looking at you). But they've not long finished the second season and I'm eagerly awaiting the third season to find out who the other killer is. 

As an addendum, this is the final point where my love letter remains spoiler free. I don't know why you'd be reading a post about a film and tv show you've not fully seen yet and expecting no spoilers - but here's me spoon feeding it. If, like me, you don't mind spoilers (or have seen both the TV show and films) then read on.  

One of the reasons I didn't think it would work, is the inevitable passing of time. Sure Scream did stay away from hideous 90s fashion so it does have a timeless look about it - but it still has been 20 years since the first one was released. Aren't the actors old now? Does the same set still exist? How can they aim a show at teenagers who weren't even born yet when the original film was released? 


But the makers of the TV show didn't make all the same mistakes that other re-boots do. They aren't taking us back to Woodsboro again and again and again. They're not still trying to pass Neve Campbell off as a high school student (tbh, she didn't even pass as a high school student back then). And they're not taking Billy Loomis back from the dead.

The Scream writers were smart and kept what made Scream iconic: the killer who has watched one too many scary movies, the high school setting, the pop culture references, the whodunit, the creepy phone call, the voice. Those were the important parts - there's not a rule somewhere that Neve Campbell has to play Sidney Prescott until the day she dies (can someone let Hugh Jackman know this? I love Wolverine but it's time to let another character get centre stage). Other successful franchises go this route too. Think about James Bond - it has survived because they've switched up the actors and moved with the times.



In the Scream television series we are taken to Lakewood (not Woodsboro), the main character is Emma Duvall (not Sidney Prescott), the film geek is Noah Foster (not Randy Meeks), the original killer prior to the film is Brandon James (not Cotton Weary), and we even get a different mask! Oh and the killer doesn't just use phone calls anymore - there's text messaging and killer selfies! (This was a bit cringey at first, but you get used to it)

Despite the changes, the TV show still pays homage to the original films. The opening scene with Nina reflects that of Casey Becker, and the closing scene at Nina's house party mirrors the final kill-off in Scream 1. Which made my pop culture heart flutter - but I did wonder if audiences who hadn't seen the films might be a bit lost. Not actually, as I've found out from friends. The references just go over their heads and they continue to enjoy the show - which is an accolade to the talent of the writers.


However, the references do have a negative drawback - I was able to guess the killers because I've seen the films. I didn't pre-emptively identify Piper as the killer, but once it was revealed she was actually the half-sibling of Emma and her killing spree was an act of jealousy - I got a sense of dejavu. If you've seen the films you'll know that in Scream 3 it was revealed that Sidney had a half-sibling through her mum, who had been given up for adoption - and killed out of jealousy. So when season 2 started it didn't take long for my suspicions of Emma's boyfriend Kieran to grow because Sidney's boyfriend in Scream 1, Billy Loomis, had turned out to be the killer.

You might be reading this and thinking I'm an old codger who rants about the youth of today. If you are good at maths and know my exact date of birth - you might have noted that I was only 6 when the first film came out. I do actually have responsible parents who kept me away from age-inappropriate media, and I didn't watch Scream until I was roughly 15. The fact that I watched it almost a decade after its first release (and loved it) is a testament to its timelessness. Okay, there are a few things that give away its 90s-ness (covered in this funny YouTube video) but it has stood its test of time. 

It wasn't until recently, however, that I discovered how important Scream was to the horror genre. Scary movies weren't having a good time in the early to mid 90s and Scream revitalised it. It was both a critical and financial success - due to its smart humour and cultural importance. The debate about whether slasher films encourage real-world killers is one that society still has today - and is actively discussed in the film. As Stu said "Movies don't make killers, they just make them more creative". The second film even comments on a lack of racial diversity in horror films: 


The revelation that they're had been two killers made it stand out as well. Think about it: how many slasher films have two killers. Two killers makes it harder for the audience to identify the culprit (I managed to guess Kieran, but I spent a lot of series convinced there would be a second killer - my money was on Brooke, which I know will annoy a lot of fans). 

Also, am I just old or is it really cool that the TV show includes a caption letting audiences know what song is currently playing? Is that new, or are all the cool shows doing it now?

To all that doubt Scream's brilliance and my love for it: 1) mind your own business and get back to whatever franchise is your favourite and 2) it saved the horror genre, managed to successfully launch a tv show two decades after the original and is full of pop culture references. 

And I don't know what else you could want in a film. 

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morag | mo adore
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  1. I fucking love the Scream franchise! All the films and the new series! I watched the first season before I'd seen the films, and then only watched the films about a year or so ago. I thought it might be Kieran too but hoped so bad it wasn't him! I was devastated haha!

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