Scream' as One of the Best Horror Movies

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After being released in December of 1996 by Dimension Films, the movie ‘Scream’ continues to be one of the most popular horror movies of all time. It was directed by Wes Craven and written by Kevin Williamson. ‘Scream’ is a slasher film that went on to restore and redefined the horror genre for a new generation of teenagers. It offers a different approach to scary movies by adding humor, romance, and having characters use cliché rules in order to survive. Its mash up of different genres is what makes it a movie people continue to enjoy and watch throughout the years.

The movie is based in Woodsboro, California where high school students are being hunted by a killer who wears a ghostface costume. The killer targets a teenage girl, Sidney Prescott, for reasons she doesn’t learn about until the end of the film. Not following the towns curfew, a large group of students gather for a party making it easy for the killer to pick them off one at a time. Sidney is confronted by the killers and learns that she is being targeted for her mother’s mistakes. Fighting to stay alive, Sidney flips the roles by killing both of her attackers. The ending scene starts with a new day that shows Gale making her big story, Dewey being loaded into an ambulance, and police surrounding Stu’s house.

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In the small town of Woodsboro, a year after her mother’s murder, Sidney was trying to get back to a normal life until two of her classmates were brutally murdered. After being attacked, her boyfriend Billy climbed through her bedroom window claiming he heard her screams, but the front door was locked. Not believing his story she runs downstairs and out the front door, where Deputy Dewey was about to knock. Billy was arrested, but was soon released after Sidney received a call from the killer while he was still at the police station. The next day, Deputy Dewey dropped Sidney and her friend Tatum off at Woodsboro High school, which was filled with news reporters and police officers. Stu, Tatum’s boyfriend, decides to throw a party since their classes had been canceled. The party starts off normal with a bunch of teenage kids drinking alcohol, watching scary movies, and discussing the rules of how to survive them. Dewey and Gale Weathers, a news reporter, become close while watching over the party together. After many more murders, it is finally revealed that Billy and Stu are the killers. They admitted to killing Sidney’s mom because of an affair she was having with Billy’s father, which caused his mother to abandon him. Afterwards, they tell her their plans to frame everything on her father. When they become distracted, she quickly flips the roles and attacks them using their own methods. Trying to escape, Sidney ends up killing both of them with the help of Gale Weathers and Randy Meeks, who suspected Billy all along.

The movie is filled with tons of jokes directed towards other horror movies. In the famous opening scene, Casey, the first victim, says she thinks the sequels to ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ are ‘sucked’ after the killer tells her his favorite horror movie. Wes Craven directed the original ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’, but was not involved in its sequels. The line serves as a clever wink to fans of the genre and sets the tone for the film. Another reference to ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’, shows Craven as the school janitor dressed in Freddy Krueger’s original costume. Throughout the movie, the characters use many skillfully placed quotes from other popular horror films.

Before ‘Scream’, not many horror films involved any kind of romance between characters. As Sidney and Billy’s relationship deteriorates, Gale and Dewey’s is just starting to form. It shows them getting to know each other and a lot of playful flirting. They become close the night of the party, and even kiss while investigating Mr. Prescott’s car. Sidney and Billy’s relationship was revived when he convinced Sidney to give him a second chance. Fortunately, their rekindled love didn’t last long since the killer ‘stabbed’ Billy from behind and chased Sidney through the house.

Instead of constantly exhibiting all of the clichés of other scary movies, it hacks them up by having the characters often mock them outright. During the party scene, Jamie Kennedy’s character Randy lists four cliché rules that every horror movie character must follow to survive. The rules are to never have sex, drink or do drugs, say ‘I’ll be right back’, and that everyone is a suspect. Williamson’s script both adheres to these rules and subverts them, with characters deliberately pressing their luck and Craven toying with audience expectations.

Although the film was a hit, after learning how the movie was inspired many people were left very unhappy. Screenwriter Kevin Williamson was partially influenced by a real-life series of student murders in Gainesville, Florida in 1990. In 1998, Williamson told CNN about how he was watching a TV special about the murders, and got really spooked over them. That same night after waking up from a nightmare, he wrote the opening scene for ‘Scream’. After just three days he had the whole full-length script completely finished.

After all of the genre-mashing, the results are a unique film that’s certainly among the best of anything that informed it. As far as pure slashers go, it is better than 99% of the films that it pokes fun at, which is exactly why it works. The movie has so much to offer for many different reasons. It’s armed with genuine wit, humor, cleverness, and an assortment of characters that move the film far beyond the body count movies that inspired it. After the original, three sequels followed to continue the story and offer new twists to each movie.

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Scream’ as One of the Best Horror Movies. (2023, January 31). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 14, 2024, from
“Scream’ as One of the Best Horror Movies.” Edubirdie, 31 Jan. 2023,
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