SCREAMing Through the Years

Kayla Funk, Staff Writer

Scream is an arguably revolutionary horror series that stands out from the crowd. The movies somehow manage to communicate to the audience that it is self aware of what it is, without being categorized as a spoof. With the creation of this series, Wes Craven was able to revive the horror movie genre as it reached a low point in the mid 90s. The outcome of each movie is kept a mystery till the very end, leaving the audience to theorize throughout the film (almost like a grown-up Scooby-Doo). The series also gave horror fans one of the most iconic “final girls,” Sidney Prescott. But every movie series has its best and its worst films, and this series is no exception. The World of Scream is a problematic community of many theories, opinions, arguments, and super awesome slasher scenes. When a series is able to survive from the 90s to present day, you know it has to be something special. 

Scream (1996) shocked horror movie lovers across the world upon its release. The original teasers had audiences thinking that this would be “just another sub-par slasher film,” but they were wrong. The movie did all they could to get people to come out to theaters and give Scream a chance. This included casting Drew Barrymore as the “headlining” actress and using her in all their advertising, only to kill off her character within the first 15 minutes. Upon viewing Wes Craven’s masterpiece, viewers were thrilled with this new addition to the horror genre. The movie managed to be funny without becoming a spoof and be self-aware without taking away surprise and gore. Billy Loomis and Stu Macher became one of the most iconic serial killer duos in film history. The movie is an all time horror classic that surprised audiences with a new idea of what this genre could be.

Scream 2 (1997) was announced just months after the release of the original. The speed of production and the known fact that sequels are rarely better than the original left fans skeptical. The sequel (being its infamous self-aware self) made it a point to acknowledge the expectation that it would not exceed the success of the first edition. Mickey Alteri is (essentially) a background character for the majority of the movie whose only shining moment is an argument in a film studies class with Sidney Prescott’s best friend, Randy Meeks. Mickey argues that a sequel can be just as good or better than the original. He is a rather minor character for the majority of the movie. Shock struck the audience when Mickey took off the mask towards the end of the movie to reveal himself as one of the killers. His reason for the serial killings he had committed? To prove that the sequel can be better. Making the second movie self aware that it was a sequel made it hard for fans to closely compare it to the original and allowed them to avoid harsh reviews. By doing this they also found a way to revolutionize the way that critics viewed sequels.

Scream 3 (2000) was released only three years after the sequel and is the lowest rated film of the franchise. Fans were eager to get to the theaters after the first two movies exceeded expectations. Unfortunately, they were let down. Critics despised the messy plot, unnecessary characters, and Jumanji-like aesthetic that it tried to match. However, the die hard fans had no problems with that because ultimately the movies were supposed to be a little ridiculous. The Scream enthusiasts were mad because the movie broke the iconic tradition of the serial killer duo. With only one killer the movie lost its signature, lost die hard fans, and disappointed audiences.

When Scream 4 (2011) was announced people were shocked. Since the first three movies were released so close together, fans thought it was over. But, after eleven years of silence from the Scream franchise a new addition was in the works. With expectations low after the third movie, Scream 4 became a movie that fans felt like they had to see instead of a movie they wanted to see. The reactions from audiences were mixed. By bringing the franchise into the 2010’s the movie was available to a whole new audience that was too young when the originals came out. The teenage audiences with no prior Scream knowledge reacted very well to the film. It came off as a spoof to them and was widely enjoyed. Once again, the original fans were not happy. With the fourth installment the movie had lost its unique way of bordering comedy and self-awareness without being categorized as a spoof. This film was rated higher than the third, because of the mixed audiences, but many real fans claim it was worse than the third being that its only redeeming quality was the return of the killer duo.

Once again the franchise went silent for eleven years before Scream 5 (2022) was released. In the years between the release of Scream 4 and Scream 5, the horror community lost the iconic and wonderfully talented director and writer, Wes Craven. Wes Craven is responsible for some of the most revolutionary installments in the horror genre, such as Nightmare on Elm Street, Fountain Society and of course Scream. Once he passed, fans were positive the series had come to an end. When the new installment was announced fans were excited, but tried to not get their hopes up. The movie has been out for about a month and so far audiences have reacted very well. The movie branded itself as a “requel,” which means they touch on occurrences of the original but do not recreate them. The new movie paid homage to Wes Craven by naming Dylan Minnetes character after him and dedicating the movie to him at the end. From the return of Billy Loomis in the form of a ghost to the iconic final scene where Gale Weathers and Sidney Prescott walk away victorious, as always, the movie was a good way to bring the series back to life. 

Like all movies and series, Scream isn’t perfect. It has its ups and downs but is overall an enjoyable series. All films include amazing irony, cinematography, and acting (which is a lot to say about a horror movie from the 90s). Scream is the first of its kind and will continue to inspire progress in the horror community forever.

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